Latest Truven Health analysis raises pertinent questions, comparatively speaking.
In an era of transparency, government agencies and not-for-profit advocacy groups are publishing a growing amount of data about providers’ performance on outcomes, quality measures, pricing and patient satisfaction.
For patients, the results can be confusing. Rankings and letter grades only complicate decisions about where to go and what to have done, especially when those decisions have to be made in a hurry.
That’s why each year Modern Healthcare proudly publishes Truven Health Analytics’ analysis of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals. Truven ranks the best-performing hospitals on a composite measure that includes traditional quality and outcomes measures plus financial performance. Shorn of irrelevant considerations such as reputation, its analysis provides hospital and system officials with useful benchmarks for measuring their performance against peers and against their own previous performance.
It raises an interesting question, however, one that is relevant not only to hospital officials but also to healthcare consumers. If diagnosed with a particular health problem, should a patient rely on the local hospital recently taken over by a for-profit system or go to the religious-affiliated institution across town? Does the prestigious university medical center in the nearby city truly provide superior care over a small- or medium-sized suburban hospital?
For this year’s special supplement, Modern Healthcare asked Truven to analyze hospitals by ownership type: for-profit, not-for-profit, both religious-affiliated and secular, and government-run. It also asked its analysts to compare hospitals by category: major teaching, teaching, large community, medium-size community and small community.
I think you will be surprised by the results after reading the following stories by Maureen McKinney, Modern Healthcare’s quality and safety reporter, and Lola Butcher, a longtime contributor to the magazine.
Here’s just one example drawn from the findings. Church-affiliated not-for-profits scored the highest on overall performance, according to the data, McKinney reports. Government-run hospitals had the weakest performance. However, while hospitals in for-profit systems did well on some core indicators such as care for heart attacks, cost control and profits, they lagged on others such as patient safety, mortality and patient satisfaction.
Intuitive? Not really. Read on and I think you will find that hospital performance is complex, and that comparisons such as the ones presented in this supplement can be a useful guide for future improvement efforts by hospital and system officials, who now must compete for patients in an era when quality and cost data are at everyone’s fingertips.
Merrill Goozner Editor Modern Healthcare