Government posts hospital performance data

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is posting quality-of-care data it began collecting in the fall from hospitals nationwide.

To improve patient care, CMS asked hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid payments to voluntarily report their quality measures. It posts the information on a page of its Web site.

The Health and Human Services Department agency has found that public reporting of performance information acts as a catalyst for hospitals to improve quality of care.

'The hospitals already reporting quality data deserve credit for stepping up to the plate and joining our effort to improve the quality of health care across the country,' said Health and Human Services secretary Tommy Thompson.

More hospitals are expected to participate this year in the National Voluntary Hospital Reporting Initiative because Congress has provided a financial incentive to do so in the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003. Hospitals that report quality data to CMS will receive bigger payments next year.

CMS and HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality are testing a final standard patient experience survey as part of the hospital quality initiative, which CMS launched in December 2002

Currently, 1,407 hospitals are providing information about at least one of the 10 clinical quality measures. That's more than three times the number of facilities that shared the same data in October of last year, when CMS began publishing the information.

Ultimately, CMS plans to stop posting the information on its site and move it permanently to the government's Medicare Web site. For launch early next year, CMS is developing the 'Hospital Compare' feature for the Medicare site.

CMS also is creating a data warehouse for hospitals to submit the data.

Although many hospitals collect information on patient experience and satisfaction, no national standard exists for collecting such information that allows apples-to-apples comparisons, CMS officials said. A key part of the initiative is the development of a data collection protocol that will make such comparisons possible.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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