Health Care Issues

How Do Local Hospitals Compare?
Dr. R. Michael Gulley, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center

The Hospital Compare web site the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) manage—www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov—has been up and running for one year already. Have you had a chance to visit it yet? If you haven’t had any heart-related problems or pneumonia in the past year, why would you? Or, if your health insurance carrier directs where you have to go for your care in order to maximize your coverage, why bother looking at this web site?

Here’s one reason: if your parents are still living and they’re retired or Medicare eligible, they have the freedom to choose any hospital. At their ages, they’re more likely to suffer from heart-related problems and/or be ill with pneumonia, so you might want to advise your parents about which hospitals provide the highest quality of care for these types of health concerns.

Another reason might be to review just how well your local hospitals stack up statewide, as well as to each other. If you were to visit this web site, you would note: “The hospital quality measures on this web site show recommended care for some of the most common and costly conditions that hospitals treat. Research has shown that these treatments provide the best results for most adults with those conditions and are an important part of the patients’ overall care…Hospitals should try to give all of their patients the recommended care when it is appropriate. The goal for each measure is 100 percent…The information you will find on this web site is intended to help you start a conversation with your physician or hospital about how you can best get the care you need.” Or, the best care your parents might need.

To save you some time, I’ve included below the eight Heart Attack Care Quality Measures for our four area hospitals. These figures are updated quarterly. Peoria hospitals exceed the State of Illinois averages. But, as is noted in the CMS explanation above, it’s important that hospitals have 100 percent as their goal. As are all Peoria hospitals, we at OSF Healthcare System are committed to that goal as exemplified by our Vision Statement: “Recognizing God’s great gift of life, we will be a community of caregivers pursuing perfection in healthcare quality, safety, service and financial integrity.”

It would be very difficult to draw a valid conclusion from this data alone as to which Peoria hospital would be most likely to provide the best care to the next patient with a heart attack. Over time, these publicly displayed performance data will mature, and it may be possible to do so. Since the national averages for these rates were in the 60 percent range just a few years ago, you can identify that a hospital’s consistent performance in the high nineties indicates it’s working hard at achieving perfect performance. It may be more important to ask your doctor or hospital what they’re doing to improve rather than trying to figure out if the difference between 92 and 93 percent means anything. IBI