Leapfrog Group to issue ratings for outpatient surgery departments, ambulatory surgical centers 

Leapfrog Group is planning to rate ambulatory surgical centers and outpatient surgical departments. (Pixabay)

The Leapfrog Group will expand its quality ratings to outpatient surgery next year.

Leapfrog announced on Tuesday that it would open surveys for outpatient surgical departments that are connected with a health system, as well as free-standing ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs), in April. A national report about how those centers are rated is expected to be released in fall 2019.

The ratings will include information on procedure volumes, outcomes, safety and patient experience and satisfaction.

Leah Binder, CEO of Leapfrog, told FierceHealthcare that the ratings seek to fill data gaps that can empower patients to make informed decisions about surgical care. 

“We’re seeing a burgeoning marketplace” for these services outside the inpatient setting, she said. “Given that transition, it seems clear that it would be very important for people to have information on the safety and quality of these facilities.” 

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Providers that participate in the surveys will get detailed reports they can use to benchmark quality and safety, and measure progress, according to Leapfrog. Beginning in 2020, the group will issue individualized public reports on participants. 

Leapfrog’s team has a baseline to work with for outpatient centers, Binder said, but evaluating ASCs is a whole new frontier. So Leapfrog is limiting the number of ASCs participating in the ratings in the report's first year to 250, which Binder said should offer a diverse data pool but also allow the team to study what kind of measurement framework would work best for these facilities. Starting with a small cohort initially will also allow Leapfrog to learn more about the best way to support ASCs in the survey. 

“We’re really starting from scratch,” Binder said. “I think, to their credit, a lot of hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers publicly report their performance, given that there is very little publicly available—they'll do it themselves. But consumers want independent information, and to be able to compare among different providers in an apples to apples way.” 

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Leapfrog Group’s ratings will also compare quality and safety of procedures between outpatient surgery departments and ASCs, Binder said, which will allow patients to better choose between different providers. 

This is going to be challenge, she said, since the two types of facilities have very different structures for measuring their performance. Leapfrog’s team will have to digest the survey responses in a way that allows these providers to be put against one another, she said. 

“From a consumer point of view, you don’t care if the knee replacement is done in hospital or ambulatory surgical center, you just want to know if it’s safe or not,” she said.