Illinois launches healthcare quality data site

Though the evidence continues to be contradictory as to whether report cards and healthcare data have much impact on quality--or whether consumers even use such data--public policymakers continue to take a "build it and they will come" attitude.

The most recent example of such faith comes from Illinois, where the state has launched a new site (www.healthcarereportcard.illinois.gov) offering data on its hospitals and surgery centers. The data listed includes pricing information, procedure volume, how often care meets recommendations and how the facilities rate with consumers. Some of the data on the site comes from Medicare Compare data collected by HHS.

The state site also offers information on how facilities are staffed. For example, it allows consumers to contrast hospitals which use registered nurses heavily with those that lean on nursing assistants more.

Perhaps the most immediate effect of the data may be to help patients get care discounts. A new state law requires hospitals to offer price cuts to patients making up to 600 percent of the federal poverty level in Chicago, and with prices laid out on the Web, patients are more likely to be aware of whether they're getting discounts. The site also highlights big pricing differences between facilities, which can vary by a factor of four from one point to another on some procedures.

To learn more about the new effort:
- read this Chicago Tribune piece

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