Background: The Hospital Quality Alliance (HQA) is the first initiative that routinely reports data on hospitals' performance nationally. Heretofore, such data have been unavailable.
Methods: We used data collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on 10 indicators of the quality of care for acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, and pneumonia. The main outcome measures were hospitals' performance with respect to each indicator and summary scores for each clinical condition. Predictors of a high level of performance were determined with the use of multivariable linear regression.
Results: A total of 3558 hospitals reported data on at least one stable measure (defined as information obtained from discharge data from at least 25 patients) during the first half of 2004. Median performance scores (expressed as the percentage of patients who satisfied the criterion) were at least 90 percent for 5 of the 10 measures but lower for the other 5. Performance varied moderately among large hospital-referral regions, with the top-ranked regions scoring 12 percentage points (for acute myocardial infarction) to 23 percentage points (for pneumonia) higher than the bottom-ranked regions. A high quality of care for acute myocardial infarction predicted a high quality of care for congestive heart failure but was only marginally better than chance at predicting a high quality of care for pneumonia. Characteristics associated with small but significant increases in performance included being an academic hospital, being in the Northeast or Midwest, and being a not-for-profit hospital.
Conclusions: Analysis of data from the new HQA national reporting system shows that performance varies among hospitals and across indicators. Given this variation and small differences based on hospitals' characteristics, performance reporting will probably need to include numerous clinical conditions from a broad range of hospitals.