Healthcare Business News
Leah Binder Leapfrog's president and CEO

Leapfrog taps help for safety score, survey

By Paul Barr
Posted: December 12, 2012 - 3:30 pm ET

The Leapfrog Group signed an agreement with Johns Hopkins Medicine's Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality for assistance with the employer-backed quality organization's Hospital Safety Score and Leapfrog Hospital Survey. Leapfrog came under intense criticism from some hospital executives after the release of Hospital Safety Scores last month and over the summer.

Leapfrog partnered with the institute to help guide the methodology behind the two hospital evaluation tools, the organization said today. Changes could be in store for the Hospital Safety Score in terms of which measures are used and how the measures are weighted in calculating letter grades for hospitals scored by Leapfrog.

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Leah Binder, Leapfrog's president and CEO, said Armstrong had been doing ad hoc work for Leapfrog since June and now the partnership has been formalized and made permanent. “This is an important signal that the Hospital Safety Score is here to stay,” Binder said.

Binder said there are no plans to make major changes to the score, but didn't rule out the possibility that changes may come after the panel overseeing the score meets in 2013.

Matt Austin, who is an instructor at Armstrong and who used to oversee the Leapfrog score in a previous job, will lead the team assisting Leapfrog. In the near term, he said the effort will consider ways to include Maryland hospitals in the score—reporting differences have kept them out so far—and also will consider ways to include Veterans Administration hospitals.

Longer term, Austin said that Armstrong researchers may examine whether some measures used to calculate the score should be eliminated or replaced. A criticism some hospital industry executives have had was that the score relies on measures slated to be dropped by the CMS for its performance measurement.

There also is discussion about changing the way the weights are redistributed when a measure value is not available, he said. Currently, the weights are redistributed among similar measures, but the team will consider whether it makes more sense to redistribute weights across all measures with an available score. The weighting system also has been criticized by some in the industry.

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