Baptist CEO Jason Little Offers Tips for Understanding Hospital Quality Reports

Nov 13 • 2017

Hospital quality reports can create confusion rather than certainty about hospital quality and safety. That’s because the criteria, limitations and motivations of these reports differ. For example, one well-known organization or publication might give a hospital high rankings while another equally well-known organization could rank the same hospital poorly. So how do you know which system is valid or reliable?

The Association of American Medical Colleges recommends a set of 25 guiding principles to help consumers evaluate these reports and make sound decisions about their health care. These principles fall into three primary categories: purpose, transparency and validity. So first you want to consider who the target audience is and the purpose of the report.  Then, you need to know how the data was collected, the methodology, any limitations, relevant financial interests and whether the results can be replicated. Finally, you want to make sure the results are valid or accurate, have National Quality Forum endorsement (if appropriate) and providers are accurately characterized. Are you comparing apples to apples? Then you can select a report and correctly interpret the data.

For both personal and professional assessments, I really like the Premier QUEST collaborative tool. I believe it objectively measures hospital quality and cost data, and benchmarks this data against hospitals of similar size and with patients who have the same level or complexity of illness. The assessment also benchmarks your hospital against the top 10 percent of hospitals in the nation in respective measures and for specific services, such as cardiology, oncology, neurosciences, emergency medicine and others. A big plus is the nation’s largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care, as well as the National Quality Forum, have recognized Premier for improving patient safety and health care quality through the QUEST collaborative.

Understanding hospital quality reports and their limitations is important to helping you make good decisions about your health care. You deserve to be informed and have access to reliable data. I hope the information I’ve shared is helpful. What other questions do you have about hospital quality reports?

Jason Little photo
Jason Little
President/Chief Executive Officer
Baptist Memorial Health Care