Hospital report cards fall flat at improving outcomes

Seven years after the federal government started publicly reporting hospitals’ performance on quality measures, evidence suggests that this transparency effort has not improved patient outcomes measurably.

The latest discouraging finding is in a study in the March issue of Health Affairs that analyzes death rates among Medicare patients with heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia in the five years before the launch of the government’s Hospital Compare website and in the three years afterward. Although individual hospitals’ compliance with quality metrics for these conditions was reported publicly, the effort reduced the odds of a heart failure patient dying within 30 days by only 3%. Heart attack and pneumonia patients saw no improvement in death rates, the study concluded.

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