You can now check hospital quality performance on heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia at Medicare’s Hospital Compare website, the Wall Street Journal reports. Seventeen commonly accepted quality measures are tracked and almost all hospitals report their data.
The information should help hospitals improve their performance, private and public payers to implement pay-for-performance systems, and consumers to make better choices. It shifts the focus from whether to report to how to make the information better. And it will likely spur implementation of electronic medical records and computerized physician order entry systems that improve the ability to achieve high scores on the quality measures.
Health plans have some of this information, but have long lacked leverage to negotiate with prestigious academic medical centers. Costs are higher for health plan customers as a result. I’ll be watching to see how health plans use this tool to encourage patients to use lesser known community hospitals that score highly and are less expensive.April 1, 2005