The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has added new information to the Hospital Compare Web site that reports how frequently patients return to a hospital after being discharged, as a possible indicator of how well the facility did the first time around.
On average, one in five Medicare beneficiaries who are discharged from a hospital today will re-enter the hospital within a month.
Alfred Bove, MD, president of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), said the college "supports public reporting of these measures because they are intended to drive quality improvement efforts to enhance care in these important and high volume clinical areas."
"Reporting of the readmission measures provides hospitals with critical information about the quality of care they provide," Bove said. "As Congress gets set to vote on overarching health reform bills in the coming weeks, these data are critical to helping benchmark and ensure quality care.
"The president and Congress have both identified the reduction of readmissions as a target area for health reform," said the Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "When we reduce readmissions, we improve the quality of care patients receive and cut healthcare costs."
"Providing readmission rates by hospital will give consumers even better information with which to compare local providers," said CMS Acting Administrator Charlene Frizzera.
This year, CMS has changed the way it calculates the mortality data to provide even better information to consumers. In 2007 and 2008, Medicare used only one year of claims data to compute mortality, while the rates added to the Web site today encompass three full years of claims data (from July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2008). Although this means that consumers cannot compare data from last year's rate with this year's rate, the agency said that the expanded data set should provide a clearer picture of how well hospitals are performing.
CMS has been tracking the outcomes of hospital care since 2007 when Hospital Compare debuted 30-day mortality rates for heart attack and heart failure. Using the three-year data method, CMS estimates that the national 30-day mortality rate for patients originally admitted for heart attack care is 16.6 percent. For heart failure patients, the national 30-day mortality rate is 11.1 percent.
Hospital Compare also includes 10 measures that capture patient satisfaction with hospital care, 25 processes of care measures and two children's asthma care measures. The site also features information about the number of selected elective hospital procedures provided to patients and what Medicare pays for those services.