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WSJ Rounds Up Hospital Data

Today's Wall Street Journal (subscription ordinarily required, although today - - 7/10/07 - - all online content is available free) rounds up a number of databases available online to consumers wishing to research hospitals. Notable inclusions appear below the fold.

Access the full article here.

Excerpts from the WSJ article

How to Size Up Your Hospital

. . .

The best-known source for hospital data may be Hospital Compare (www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov), set up jointly by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, hospitals and other groups. The site lets consumers search by city, state or other criteria, and look up a variety of statistics comparing more than 5,000 hospitals against one another and to state and federal averages.

. . .

Other groups track similar data on best practices, including the Joint Commission, the independent nonprofit group that accredits most of the hospitals in the U.S. On the group's site, www.qualitycheck.org, consumers can search by hospital, location or type of service and get reports on hospital practices that draw on the commission's inspections of facilities it accredits.

. . .

The Leapfrog Group, a not-for-profit consortium of big health-care buyers like General Motors Corp., provides hospital ratings that are available to the public at www.leapfroggroup.org. Like Medicare's, many ratings focus on process rather than outcomes, but it collects some data of its own and analyzes 30 different practices at about 1,300 hospitals.

. . .

Some resources, including some state governments, are increasingly publishing data on how patients actually fare -- at least for some conditions. New York's state health department, for example, combines state and federal data to let consumers compare mortality rates for cardiac surgery at all hospitals in the state. At hospitals.nyhealth.gov, consumers can compare facilities against one another and against state averages. The site also provides some data on how often a hospital does a particular procedure, as well as some best-practices statistics such as those on the Hospital Compare site.

. . .

Last month, Medicare started providing some mortality information for heart-attack and heart-failure cases through Hospital Compare -- specifically, measuring how likely such patients are to die of any cause within 30 days of admission at all of the hospitals it tracks. But critics say the information is too vague to be of much use: The site indicates only whether a given hospital is better, no different or worse than national averages -- and virtually all hospitals fall into the "no different" category. (Seventeen U.S. hospitals are "better" than the U.S. rate for heart-attack deaths, and seven are "worse," for example; the rest -- 4,453 -- are labeled "no different.")

A private company, Health Grades Inc. of Golden, Colo., also rates doctors and hospitals and provides information on a broader range of outcomes. The company's site -- www.healthgrades.com -- rates hospitals on 32 conditions and procedures, from appendectomies to heart-valve-replacement surgery.

. . .

For the intrepid consumer willing to wade through volumes of statistics, the Dartmouth Medical School's Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care at www.dartmouthatlas.org is a gold mine of information comparing hospital practices across regions and states -- suggesting, for example, that some procedures may be overused in some areas.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 10, 2007 9:30 AM.

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