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Leapfrog's 'License Fees' for Promoting Hospital Scores Rankle

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, June 14, 2012

"This is some information that is starting to make the rounds in the hospital circles.  It appears that if you did not participate in Leapfrog, then you were penalized," says David Perrott, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer for the California Hospital Association. "This deserves more questions and explanation from Leapfrog if correct."

Leah Binder, Leapfrog's CEO, vehemently denies that, saying that hospitals with complaints "are really grasping at straws; hopefully they will soon focus on the most important thing, which is improving their safety.

Binder insists that "any hospital that is among the safest in the U.S. could get an A, whether they report to Leapfrog or not," and in fact, "146 hospitals that don’t report to Leapfrog got an A. Two that come to mind: NYU Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic in Florida."

Binder says Leapfrog "considered not allowing commercial use of the score at all. But a major purpose of the score is for hospitals to compete on safety, so we don’t want to discourage advertising. And requiring licensure for commercial use of something is standard practice in every industry. Try selling your own Obama or Romney campaign baseball caps and see how quickly campaign lawyers will be sending you a bill," she says.

The idea that Leapfrog and the hospitals that buy its marketing packages have a conflict of interest, Binder says, "is absurd. Do you reject the findings of a Gallup Poll because Gallup itself collected the data? The development of the score was an objective, thoughtful, and unbiased process."

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3 comments on "Leapfrog's 'License Fees' for Promoting Hospital Scores Rankle"


Michael Millenson (6/15/2012 at 1:58 PM)
This story lets the hospitals try to conflate two different, unrelated items. First, is reporting data to Leapfrog, which is voluntary, a factor in being rated safe or not? Hospitals complain, but present no evidence, and Leapfrog says no. Second, is it OK for Leapfrog to charge for commercial use of its data? Yes. But the article acts as if Leapfrog makes money through the hospitals' voluntary reporting. It does not.

Anthony Cirillo (6/15/2012 at 12:38 PM)
I have to agree with the other comment. How is this any different than paying for Health Grades and the rest of the lot? Just because the data suggests under-performance does not give the right to attack a process that ther quality graders are using. They are in BUSINESS! That is how they make money. As a former chief marketing officer in hospitals and now as a consultant, I advise my clients against "buying" ratings, for good or for bad.

Joe Ketcherside MD (6/15/2012 at 9:51 AM)
I have been in healthcare for over 30 years, and this is the same song and dance over again. Physicians and hospitals who flunk a test spend more time attacking the test than they do their own crappy performance. Every measure of our health system that has ever been published shows that errors are rampant, routine care is not provided appropriately and costs are bankrupting us. "My patients are sicker." "The measures aren't risk-stratified" "Somebody else got a preferential score" and all the other standard objections are just plain worn out. If there's a better measure out there, let's see it. And I got news for you, if 80% of the systems test "above average", then that test is worthless. No measure is perfect, but if we all use the same test we know where we stand and can do something about it. Hospitals and physicians have done their level best to avoid any and all objective measurement of the safety and quality of care they deliver and oppose any public reporting. That has to stop. It's way past time for those hospitals with the Cs, Ds and Fs to put on their big boy undies, quit whining, and start acting like the professional they claim to be. Programs like Leapfrog will make it possible for consumers to pick the best systems, and with any luck the ones who spend their time attacking the test instead of their own failures will just go out of business.