CMS' Hospital Compare website—which began publicly reporting hospital care quality data seven years ago—has had no impact on mortality rates for myocardial infarctions (MIs) or pneumonia, according to a study in Health Affairs.
CMS in 2005 began posting quality ratings for more than 3,000 U.S. hospitals on its Hospital Compare website. The site first included data on adherence to basic clinical care guidelines and expanded to include patient experience scores, readmission rates, mortality rates, and complication rates.
Based on Medicare claims data from 2000 to 2008, Weill Cornell Medical College researchers and colleagues found that hospitals may have reduced 30-day mortality for MIs and pneumonia over the seven-year study period. However, the researchers, who also assessed Hospital Compare site usage, attributed that improvement to ongoing clinical care innovation rather than public reporting.
The researchers also found a modest improvement in heart failure 30-day mortality rates, but could not determine whether the improvement could be attributed to public reporting efforts. In addition, the researchers determined that the Hospital Compare website did not direct patients toward hospitals with better quality ratings.
"The jury's still out on Medicare's effort to improve hospital quality of care by posting death rates and other metrics to a public website," says lead author Andrew Ryan. He recommends further study on the impact of public reporting on care quality (Fleming, Health Affairs release, 3/6; Rau, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 3/5; McKinney, Modern Healthcare, 3/5 [subscription required]).
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