Medicare Hospital Quality Reporting Brings Little Or No Mortality Improvement

Health Affairs: by Chris Fleming – March 6th, 2012.

Medicare’s seven-year public reporting initiative for hospitals, Hospital Compare, had no impact on reducing death rates for two key health conditions and just a modest effect on a third. That’s the conclusion of a just-released study that raises questions about the initiative’s ability to improve the quality of care provided by the nation’s hospitals.

The study, published in the March issue of Health Affairs, shows that Hospital Compare produced no reductions beyond the existing trends in improvement of care of heart attacks and pneumonia. Authors found that hospitals might have improved on thirty-day mortality rates during the study, but attribute the change to ongoing innovations in clinical care, and not to any effect related to public reporting. At the same time, the researchers found a modest improvement in mortality rates for heart failure; though, they can’t prove that this was related to the public reporting initiative.

The findings help inform the ongoing debate about Hospital Compare, whose measures, critics say, do not necessarily reflect quality of care provided at hospitals. The study’s authors say this is one of the strongest studies to suggest that Medicare’s public reporting effort has made little or no impact on quality, at least using the current set of metrics. Read More