HFMA ANI 2008: 'Value' study finds hospital quality high, but price variations wide

As if there aren't enough scorecards for hospitals these days, a healthcare data vendor has unveiled yet another set--and not surprisingly. Given the insatiable demand for hospital transparency, the trade press seems to be eating this one up, too. Data Advantage, which provides data to more than 1,000 hospitals, announced what it calls the "Hospital Value Index" at the Healthcare Financial Management Association's HFMA ANI 2008 conference this week. Already, the Wall Street Journal has weighed in on the effort (see below).

The study, which includes both national and local market hospital rankings, looks at 1,500 hospitals and analyzes how good a bargain they offer. Its scheme weighs quality data at 45 percent of the score, affordability and efficiency at 45 percent and patient satisfaction at 10 percent of the score. It uses standard data sources to calculate quality measurements, including CMS data, LeapFrog numbers and whether the hospital was accredited by the Joint Commission. To rate affordability, the vendor looked at list prices for 103 different outpatient services, and how much the hospital spent on those procedures. To examine satisfaction, Data Advantage used survey data from discharged patients provided by Medicare.

Generally speaking, it found that hospitals with great reputations for quality care may not provide "high value" care--and that value was not correlated with hospital ownership, size, demographics or other factors. Meanwhile, it also concluded that if all 1,500 hospitals performed at the levels of those ranked as "best value" facilities, then $273 billion in excess charges would be removed from the system.

To learn more about the study:
- read this Wall Street Journal blog
- read the Data Advantage press release (.pdf)

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