The CMS and the Hospital Quality Alliance have targeted June 21 to post first-of-its-kind data to HHS Hospital Compare Web site.
USA Today reported the results of the programs dry run, which matched mortality data from the Social Security Administration to Medicare billing informationall risk-adjustedto get a better idea of the patterns and intensity of healthcare services the two different patient populations receive. The newspaper found that just 17 of 4,477 hospitals had heart attack death rates that were better than the national rate and 38 of 4,804 hospitals had heart failure death rates that were better than the national rate.
Under the initiative, patients are tracked for 30 days after admission for heart failure or heart attack, said Nancy Foster, vice president for quality and patient safety policy at the American Hospital Association. Once they are discharged, hospitals dont have a good way to track what happens to these patients, she said, adding that those 30 days are often when patients are at the highest risk. The AHA is a leading member of the HQA.
Historically, though, hospitals have balked at publicly releasing such data, and previous attempts by the CMS to track such information have been hit-or-miss, at best. But Foster said that the methods and risk adjustment used today are much more refined. A third measurement, which looks at pneumonia-related mortalities, is also expected to be approved. In reality, it is not just a new view, but a welcomed opportunity to augment our knowledge about the impact we are having on our patients and to help us focus where we have a great opportunity for improvements, Foster said. -- by Matthew DoBias