Killer Metric Separates Good Hospitals From Bad

Cheryl Clark, June 27, 2013

A hospital's low 30-day mortality rates for three key diagnoses might be an indicator of good survival rates for patients who receive hospital treatment for other conditions as well, researchers say.

How can you tell a good hospital from a bad hospital? Aside from anecdotal information about bad coffee and surly nurses, we now have actual data to help make the distinction.

Roughly three months from now starting Oct. 1, the second wave of value-based incentive payments—or penalties as some hospital providers prefer to call them—kick in.

And for the first time, 25% of the score affecting 1.25% of a hospital's Medicare payments will depend on how well those providers kept certain patients alive for at least 30 days after discharge.

The risk-adjusted measure, however, only counts those patients admitted for heart failure, pneumonia, or heart attack, which represent only 13% of all senior hospitalizations and which are the only ones currently reported on Hospital Compare.

Under authority of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, federal regulators picked these diagnoses because researchers believe that better care practices keyed to those conditions, can keep those patients alive longer.


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