A blog post in Health Affairs poses the question: Will Hospitals Help or Hinder a Better Report Card? The answer is that hospitals and health systems have led the way in developing transparent reporting of quality and patient safety data. As a creator of Hospital Compare, a consumer-oriented website that provides information on how well hospitals provide recommended care to their patients, the hospital field strongly supports transparency, and leads in sharing quality and safety information so that patients can make an informed choice about their health care.

Hospitals and health systems support displaying quality information in an understandable, accessible way, but report cards must be designed with care. The AHA has endorsed a set of principles for quality report cards that call for them to:

  • Have a clearly stated purpose, with measures selected to fit this purpose;
  • Demonstrate transparency by using a scoring methodology that can be replicated by others, clearly identifies data sources, and describes limitations of quality scores; and
  • Demonstrate validity by using statistical methods that are supported by evidence and field tested.

As with any rating or ranking system, patients should use all available tools at their disposal to identify which health care decisions are right for them.  Rating and raking systems are only one tool patients can use when making health care decisions. Patients should talk with friends and family and consult with their physician, nurses and other health care providers to determine what facility best meets their needs.

In addition, the AHA has advocated for the identification of a specific list of high priority national measures for quality improvement. Once these are finalized, a small number of reliable, accurate and care setting-appropriate measures could be implemented to address the most important areas for improvement. This would streamline reporting efforts and provide meaningful information to hospitals and health systems and to their patients and families.

The answer is not more information for the sake of transparency. It’s finding that balance between providing the right information that truly helps hospitals improve patient care and enables patients and their families to make informed choices for their health care needs. 

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