How does your hospital measure up?

You can find out on a new web site launched earlier this month by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Hospitals that participate in this comparison project have been offered a higher reimbursement rate for Medicare patients in return for reporting on data in three categories: heart attack care, heart failure care and pneumonia care.

For each of these categories, specific quality measures have been singled out. For instance, I gave the database a test drive by entering the name of a hospital in the area where I live. In the Pneumonia Care category, I chose this quality measure: “Percent of Patients Given Blood Cultures Performed Before First Antibiotic Received.”

This search quickly produced an easy-to-read graph that showed the percentage at the specific hospital as well as the national and statewide average percentages for comparison. Below the graph this explanation about the quality measure appears: “Different types of bacteria can cause pneumonia. A blood culture is a test that lets the health care provider know which bacteria may have caused your pneumonia, and which antibiotic should be prescribed.”

Good to know.

As the site develops, HHS officials will add more hospitals and expand the number of care categories. For the time being the site provides a quick and easy assessment of the level of care at participating hospitals. You can find the web site at this URL: hospitalcompare.hhs.gov.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute

Source:

“Web Site Lets Consumers Compare Hospitals” Kevin Freking, The Associated Press, 4/1/05, washingtonpost.com