The Hospital Quality Alliance updates CMS Hospital Compare data

Last week the Hospital Quality Alliance (HQA) updated the quality information posted to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Hospital Compare web site, including new data on pneumonia mortality, pediatric asthma, and updated data on heart attack and heart failure mortality.

The HQA ’s new quality information on the Hospital Compare web site --which includes data on hear attack, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, pediatric asthma care, and patient satisfaction--will allow the public to see for the first time hospital mortality rates for pneumonia patients and information on the care provided to pediatric asthma patients. The new mortality information for pneumonia patients joins existing information on Hospital Compare about hospital mortality rates for heart attack and heart failure patients, both of which are being updated for the first time since their original publication.

For mortality rates, hospitals are placed in one of three categories based on their performance in relation to a national rate – “no different than the U.S. national rate,” “better than the U.S. national rate” or “worse than the U.S. national rate” – to provide results that are clear and understandable to patients and consumers. Each hospital’s mortality rate also is available as a single number, along with a confidence interval that indicates the degree of certainty regarding the accuracy of the mortality rates.

The methodology used to calculate both the hospital-specific and national mortality rates uses one year of medical billing history and is risk-adjusted to account for certain patient characteristics. However, the mortality information does not take into account patients’ personal care preferences, such as a patient’s wish not to be resuscitated if he or she has a medical emergency. Hospitals’ goal is to provide the right care at the right time, and an important part in reaching this goal is listening to patients and respecting their preferences and wishes.

In addition to the mortality data, hospitals also are sharing information on how many times they took the appropriate steps in treating pediatric asthma patients. The new clinical information represents the first time the Hospital Compare Web site has contained data specifically about children.

The new updates join a growing collection of clinical care information on the Hospital Compare Web site as part of a public-private effort to improve consumer education about quality of care. The HQA will continue to build the Web site with an expanded range of information, including the following:

• Expanded information about surgical care, including steps taken to prevent blood clots and surgical site infections

• Hospital readmission rates

• Care received in hospital outpatient settings

(SOURCES: AHA News Now , www.ahanews.com, October 23, 2004; Hospital Quality Alliance , http://hospitalqualityalliance.org, accessed September 20, 2008)