A new healthcare report card released last week is being used by an Iowa hospital to favorably compare itself with its competitors.
The 538-bed Mercy Hospital Medical Center in Des Moines distributed its "quality care" report card to more than 1,800 businesses, chief executive officers, benefit managers and insurance companies in Des Moines last week.
"We're not afraid to be accountable for what we are providing," said Scott Harrison, Mercy's corporate vice president.
Mercy compares itself with its major cross-town rivals, 584-bed Iowa Methodist Medical Center and 319-bed Iowa Lutheran Hospital. The state's only academic medical center, 868-bed University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, which is 120 miles away from Des Moines in Iowa City, Iowa, also is compared.
The report compares charges, lengths of stay, results of treatment and cost of care. It also includes information on the number of patients served and patients' satisfaction ratings.
Mercy's competitors discounted the relevance of the data, which is based on 1992 figures. They said the merger of Iowa Methodist and Iowa Lutheran into the Iowa Health System late last year dramatically has altered the Des Moines-area healthcare market.
"We will save $8 million to $10 million in costs per year in Des Moines (because of) the merger," said Ron Hanser, Iowa Health System's senior vice president for community affairs.
More health plans, systems and other providers are releasing report cards to consumers, in large part because payers want and President Clinton's reform plan calls for information to help consumers and businesses make purchasing decisions.
In Mercy's full-color, eight-page glossy pamphlet, the hospital scored higher than the three other hospitals in several areas, including average charge per discharge (See chart) and lengths of stay. Mercy executives admitted they were selective in the information presented in the report card, which the hospital spent $10,000 to produce.
Executives at Iowa Health System said they have no plans to release their own report card.
University of Iowa executives also say they have no plans to publish a report card. They defended their higher costs, noting that their institution is a graduate medical education facility. Nationally, teaching hospitals' costs are 28% to 41% higher, on an average cost per case basis, than those of community hospitals (Feb. 7, p. 37).
All Iowa acute-care hospitals are required by state law to report data through Medisgroups, a software used by the Iowa Health Data Commission.
Iowa Health System's Mr. Hanser took issue with the Medisgroups approach, which collects data on only 66 DRGs from hospitals. "The DRGs they collect represent only 42% of the total patients treated here," Mr. Hanser said.