As you reported, HCIA and Mercer Management Consulting have developed a benchmarking data base that allows the comparison of hospitals on a national basis (Jan. 17, p. 8).
We undertook the study to identify the nation's top hospitals so that others, by emulating the performance of those high-ranking facilities, could reduce costs and lengths of stay and improve their value to customers, payers and patients.
To construct our data base, we used the best publicly available national data, Medicare cost reports and MEDPAR. Then we measured hospital performance against eight criteria: charge per adjusted discharge; risk-adjusted mortality ratio; case-mix adjusted morbidity ratio; expense per adjusted admission; severity-adjusted average length of stay; profitability, as evidenced by the cash-flow margin; financial leverage, seen in the ratio of debt to assets; and investment in capital assets.
Having worked personally with HCIA, I'm confident that the data methodologies we employed let us spotlight 100 hospitals that should serve as models for others that want to shorten lengths of stay, reduce mortality and morbidity rates and invest efficiently in physical assets.
Readers must understand that this study isn't the appropriate basis on which to base decisions on selecting or purchasing hospital services. Reaching conclusions on that requires information on outcomes, breadth of services and accessibility, among others.
Mercer Management Company