"HCIA teams up with TV on hospital awards" (Oct. 12, p. 31), a story on how a health information company and a cable TV network are giving out awards to hospitals, starting with those given in Chicago, fails to question two things: the assumptions on which HCIA bases its hospital ratings report and its application of Medicare data to "score" hospitals on quality of care and market share.
After years of trying, HCFA abandoned efforts to rate hospitals by using that data, which were meant only to calculate the amount of government reimbursement for a hospital's health services to Medicare patients. Yet HCIA has used this same information to develop a hospital score card that is misleading to the consumer. The company's basic premise is that low cost and short length of hospital stay equal quality. Most healthcare providers would refute those measurements as not indicating quality outcomes. In the Chicago area, professional hospital associations, leaders of major medical centers and independent analysts have strongly criticized the HCIA report as sloppy and questionable.
At Loyola, we have many centers of excellence and high-profile programs. We admit that we have focused on teaching and patient care rather than data analysis. We realize that healthcare institutions must statistically prove their worth in this day of healthcare as a consumer business, and we are committed to responding to this market demand.
Anthony Barbato, M.D.
President and chief executive officer
Loyola University Health System
Loyola University Medical Center