Reports From the Field: Employer group report cards don’t improve quality

The majority of hospital report cards created by employer groups do not improve the quality of care, according to a new report.1

Researchers, led by Ateev Mehrotra, MD, MPH, of the Harvard School of Medicine, interviewed leaders of employer coalitions who created the report cards and hospital representatives in 11 communities to find out what effect the report cards had on quality of care. The communities ranged from metropolitan areas to rural areas.

Report cards, grading and comparing a community’s hospitals based on factors like hospital death and average lengths of stay, are becoming more popular, Mehrotra says.

"Although this trend is still in its infancy, our analysis found that only a few existing report cards have stimulated quality improvement. However, those that were successful demonstrate their potential impact," he adds.

The report suggests that hospitals and employer groups distrust each other’s motives. Hospital officials often suspect that quality initiatives recommended by the report cares really
are about cost and object to using billing data to measure quality, the researchers say.

Reference

1. Mehrotra A, et al. Employers efforts to measure and improve hospital quality: Determinants of success. Health Affairs 2003; 22:60-71.