While information about health plan performance has been available to consumers for nearly a decade, similar data about hospitals in New York has not been easy to access. Only recently have New Yorkers been able to obtain details about quality of care provided in hospital settings, as a result of several important efforts to provide this vital information.
The New York State Department of Health (DOH) has a web-based resource providing quality measures for the state’s 239 hospitals. The site allows consumers to review hospital data by health condition, surgical procedure or special state designation (i.e., stroke or burn center). It also includes information on four health conditions—care related to heart attacks, heart failure, pneumonia and prevention of surgical infections—and up to 20 related services, as well as risk-adjusted surgical outcomes on several procedures. DOH also collects other information about hospitals that is focused on particular types of procedures performed such as Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery. In addition, the department collects inpatient and outpatient data from all hospitals in the state. These data, compiled by the Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS), provide a management tool that assists hospitals, agencies, and health care organizations in making decisions regarding financial planning and monitoring of inpatient and ambulatory surgery services and costs. DOH also collects data about patient-related adverse events occurring in hospital settings. Known as the New York Patient Occurrence Reporting and Tracking System (NYPORTS), this information is intended to be used in conjunction with the quality assurance process in a hospital and to help improve patient care.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2005 began a pilot project making hospital quality data available to consumers. Hospitals voluntarily report certain data to CMS, which publishes the data on its Web site. The report initially focuses on 10 performance measures to gauge the use of best practices when treating three common but serious conditions-heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia. The CMS effort, first piloted in several states including New York, also uses a standardized survey to compare patients´ experiences at different hospitals.