Employer-sponsored hospital report cards got shabby grades for improving quality in a study by Harvard Medical School researchers; however, a somewhat conflicting University of Oregon study said that publicly releasing report cards can be a powerful motivator for hospitals to boost performance. Although growing in popularity, only a few existing report cards comparing community hospitals have stimulated quality improvements, the Harvard researchers said. The Harvard study solicited information from leaders of employer coalitions that created report cards and hospital representatives in 11 rural and urban communities. Among its findings: Hospitals and employer groups tend to distrust each other's motives, with hospitals often suspecting that report cards are really about cost. Meanwhile, the University of Oregon researchers found that when hospital grades were publicly disseminated, hospitals went further to improve quality in the ensuing months. Both studies appear in the March-April Health Affairs. Click here for the current journal. -- by Cinda Becker
Studies conflict on hospital report cards' effect
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