Measuring the quality of hospital care in Washington state

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Measuring the quality of hospital care in Washington state

Since 2008, the Alliance has released an annual report highlighting health care quality and value at medical groups and hospitals in Washington state. Each year, the report demonstrates that the quality of care varies and that everyone has room to improve. At the Alliance, we also seek to continuously improve, and therefore try to adapt our measurement strategies to reflect current trends in health care and to align with other measurement initiatives.

Improving Alliance measurement of hospital care

In the spring of 2015, a group of Quality Improvement Committee members and recommended thought leaders were selected to review the hospital measures currently reported on the Alliance’s Community Checkup website. The subcommittee developed selection criteria in order to recommend new measures that reflect more current priorities in hospital care quality measurement. The subcommittee also worked with the Quality Improvement Committee to test the value of these new measures as well as looked to other existing measurement efforts, including the Common Measure Set, and WSHA and COAP’s quality websites.

More than 140 measures of hospital care were evaluated—from hospital readmissions to MRSA infection rates. The subcommittee used the following selection criteria to narrow the list to 32 hospital measures that cover a broad array of hospital care, including patient experience, health care associated infections, patient safety and other measures of quality. These measure results were included in the December 2015 release of the Community Checkup.

The selection criteria used to select which measures we would report on the Community Checkup website were:

  1. Readily available data/reportable results at hospital level
  2. Aligned with the Common Measure Set
  3. Preference given to nationally vetted measures
  4. Represent overall system performance, including outcomes and cost
  5. The final set should be of manageable size
  6. Consider the needs of employers, consumers and other stakeholders

Why do we measure quality of hospital care?

Understanding what quality is and how it is measured can help patients determine where to get care. Even when they don’t have a choice among hospitals — such as in an emergency or when a patient’s physician only works at one hospital — knowing about quality can help patients and their caregivers ask the right questions to make sure they get the care they need.

Purchasers also need to understand the quality of care in hospitals. The cost of hospital care can be enormous, and purchasers designing benefit strategies will want to make sure they are getting value. Providers also benefit from public reporting of hospital measures. Being able to benchmark performance against others in the state helps everyone improve.

Thank you to the members of the subcommittee who devoted many hours to this project. We are immensely grateful for the contribution of their expertise to this effort.

  • Joan Ching, MN, Administrative Director, Quality and Safety, Virginia Mason
  • Julie Duncan, Director, Center for Clinical Excellence, UW Medical Center
  • Sharon Eloranta, MD, Medical Director, Quality and Safety, Qualis Health
  • Karen Koch, Administrator of Quality Management, MultiCare
  • Kimberly Moore, MD, Associate Chief Medical Officer, CHI Franciscan
  • Michael Myint, MD, VP of Quality and Patient Safety, Swedish Medical Center
  • Terry Rogers, MD, Chief Executive Officer, Foundation for Health Care Quality
  • Anneliese Schleyer, MD, Associate Medical Director, Harborview Medical Center
  • Carol Wagner, Senior VP for Patient Safety, Washington State Hospital Association

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