Hospitals have long vied for the greatest clinical reputation, and recent efforts to increase public accountability by publishing hospital results have added a statistical dimension to this battle of the health care titans. Information from most hospitals on mortality rates, readmissions and patient satisfaction is readily available on the Internet. A quick click of the green “compare” button on the “Hospital Compare” Web site operated by the Department of Health and Human Services gives any potential patient, or competitor, side-by-side lists of statistics from rival institutions that leaves little to the imagination.
The upside of such transparency is that hospitals all over the country are eager to improve their patient outcomes. The downside is that no one really knows how.