But take a look anyway, if you have an interest in process improvement in hospitals. This is a collection of my best posts on this topic.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

An idea for US News and World Report

Here is an open suggestion for Avery Comarow, the editor of the annual US News and World Report ranking "America's Best Hospitals." Why not add to your algorithm extra points for those hospitals that voluntarily publish clinical indicators of the degree to which they harm patients? I am not talking about the usual hodgepodge of outdated CMS data, which are available anyway. I am talking about substantive clinical metrics, like central line infections, ventilator associated pneumonia, and the like. Or the ultimate, the hospital standardized mortality rate calculated by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

I can already hear the arguments against this. Who is going to validate the numbers? Which definition of central line infections should be used? How would you compare from hospital to hospital?

Please, put all that aside. Let's just accept as a premise that hospitals that choose to post these numbers do so not for comparative or competitive purposes, but rather to hold themselves accountable to the public for their efforts in quality and safety improvement. Shouldn't that be worth something in the US News listing?

A fallback, if you don't want to change your algorithm. Just create a special box listing the hospitals that post these kinds of results, along with their url, so people from hospitals around the world can check in and make their own judgments about the usefulness of this approach.

Avery, you have become a force in this field. As noted on your blog, your perspective uniquely qualifies you to observe and comment on the efforts by hospitals and other health care providers to improve care and patient safety. Why not use that influence to push the industry along to greater heights by giving space to those who risk holding themselves accountable in this manner?