Data-Driven Websites: Feature on a Newcomer

jmking– Kathy Terry, PhD, Senior Director, Data Analysis & Evaluation and, Jaz-Michael King, Senior Director, Healthcare Transparency, IPRO.

(This article first appeared in the March 2010 edition of BC Advantage)

Healthcare data transparency is becoming a thriving medium of information exchange between patients and caregivers. It is likely an industry that will grow even larger as time goes on, due in part to the current administration but also attributed to the great number of educated and computer-savvy, baby-boomers.

Electronically available data ranges from federal free information such as Medicare.gov (www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov) to state agencies, HMOs, and Consumer Advocacy Groups. There is a surge of states working to get their websites up and running and in a state of continual refresh of data with addition of new information over time, and links to educational initiatives. We are certainly in the age of information exchange ~ all of us working towards improving patient care and providing more tools for the patient to assist in making educated healthcare decisions.

Relatively new to the website data transparency initiative is the state of Illinois. As of November 2009, the Illinois Health Care Report Card was released (http://healthcarereportcard.illinois.gov/). As with many report cards, the standard federal data is provided but there are a few new twists as well. Nurse staffing data is being provided for the first time with consumers able to see the portion of nurses that are fulltime versus contracted. Education levels of nursing staff are also included to differentiate between the proportions of registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), or certified nursing assistants (CNAs) at each facility.

On the site, you can also access:

· volume and cost of services in hospitals and ambulatory surgery treatment centers,

· quality and safety data,

· patient satisfaction surveys, and

· summaries and links to Illinois laws that ensure consumer protection.

Patients can run a search by the usual criteria as well as a few added criteria (e.g., county, city, zip code, bed count, etc). Another new feature allows a comparison among an unlimited number of hospitals for the selected measures. Infection rates are provided including central-line associated bloodstream infection rates at the hospital level, and data on Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other organisms. Instead of Medicare process measures, the site has aggregate topic specific scores, much easier for consumers to use. As always, patients are encouraged to use this information to facilitate discussions with both their family and health care providers about their specific needs and treatment options.

All of these data comes from several different sources including federal data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS); the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH); the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN); and, both the Annual Hospital Profile and the Annual Ambulatory Surgical Treatment Center Profile collected from the Illinois DOH surveys.

Check out the website and feel free to either send in your suggestions for additional improvements or, use the site for ideas on how to build or improve upon your consumer data website! For more information, please call 516.209.5457 or visit eservices.ipro.org.