An Internet-based healthcare consumer information service has chosen 163 "Distinguished Hospitals" based on their clinical quality scores using 20 measures driven by Medicare data.
HealthGrades, of Lakewood, Colo., has previously rated hospitals on performance by individual procedure or diagnosis but had not combined those scores until now.
"What we've done for the first time is take that information and compile it into an overall hospital rating," says Sarah Loughran, HealthGrades senior vice president.
Loughran says the new listings are based on the combined totals by hospital from a three-year, risk-adjusted analysis of procedures and diagnoses in cardiology, neuroscience and cardiac, orthopedic, pulmonary and vascular surgeries.
Of the 815 tertiary hospitals that performed enough of the procedures to afford adequate comparisons, HealthGrades chose the top 20% to single out as "distinguished." They tended to be larger, with an average of 479 beds; typically were affiliated with a system (80%); and overall had a mortality rate that was 17.75% better than that of other hospitals.
With 569 licensed beds, Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, Va., made the list. Quality begets quality, according to hospital administrator Rodney Hochman, M.D., who doubles as senior vice president and CMO of the six-hospital Sentara system.
"I've been in health systems around the country, and this is a neat hospital," Hochman says. "We were first in the nation with an e-ICU. The environment helps breed the quality."
John Morrow, senior vice president of strategic development at HealthGrades, said the goal was to provide information to consumers while being fair to providers.
"Information is the key to change," Morrow says.
"You do have to start somewhere," he says, citing quality control guru W. Edwards Demming, who advised those who would improve quality to first "take a stick and draw a line in the sand, at least you'll know where you are."
"It's not about knowing whether you're right or wrong," Morrow says. "It's about knowing where you are and which direction that you're moving."