Increasingly, patients are turning to the internet to find ranking tools that measure a wide range of healthcare outcomes and delivery systems. In Illinois, a new web site that ranks hospitals on a wide range of performance and cost parameters was launched recently. It was so popular that it crashed twice before it managed to get up and stay up.
The sight exceeded many visitor’s expectations. Illinois lawmakers passed legislation in 2003 establishing a state report card for hospitals. They were one of the first states to do so. But arranging funding, staffing and procedures took six years. The site is still a work in progress with new categories such as mortality rates scheduled for inclusion.
A visitor who navigates the site will be impressed with the number of criteria measured. Quality of care was measured by a hospitals adherence to recommended treatments for pneumonia, heart failure and heart attack. Patient satisfaction rankings were a problem for some hospitals with rankings as low as 44%. The top ranked hospital, Central Du Page Hospital in Winfield, achieved a 76% rating. A measure of how seriously hospitals are taking this process was the immediate implementation of a program to build morale and engagement among front-line caregivers at Glen Oaks Hospital which ranked at the bottom.
But regardless of how complete the process is at launch, the Illinois site reflects a growing role for internet based ranking programs. America’s Health Rankings, www.americashealthrankings.org, a site boasting “the only 20 year scorecard of our nation’s health,” ranks each state by dozens of criteria ranging from cancer deaths to air pollution, from per capita primary health care physicians in practice to binge drinking.
The Hospital Compare Site at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also provides comparative data on hospitals and healthcare delivery systems. The increasing availability of healthcare data delivered by both the public and private sector should be an important part of any healthcare reform.