Importance: The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) provides feedback to hospitals on risk-adjusted outcomes. It is not known if participation in the program improves outcomes and reduces costs relative to nonparticipating hospitals.
Objective: To evaluate the association of enrollment and participation in the ACS NSQIP with outcomes and Medicare payments compared with control hospitals that did not participate in the program.
Design, setting, and participants: Quasi-experimental study using national Medicare data (2003-2012) for a total of 1,226,479 patients undergoing general and vascular surgery at 263 hospitals participating in ACS NSQIP and 526 nonparticipating hospitals. A difference-in-differences analytic approach was used to evaluate whether participation in ACS NSQIP was associated with improved outcomes and reduced Medicare payments compared with nonparticipating hospitals that were otherwise similar. Control hospitals were selected using propensity score matching (2 control hospitals for each ACS NSQIP hospital).
Main outcomes and measures: Thirty-day mortality, serious complications (eg, pneumonia, myocardial infarction, or acute renal failure and a length of stay >75th percentile), reoperation, and readmission within 30 days. Hospital costs were assessed using price-standardized Medicare payments during hospitalization and 30 days after discharge.
Results: After accounting for patient factors and preexisting time trends toward improved outcomes, there were no statistically significant improvements in outcomes at 1, 2, or 3 years after (vs before) enrollment in ACS NSQIP. For example, in analyses comparing outcomes at 3 years after (vs before) enrollment, there were no statistically significant differences in risk-adjusted 30-day mortality (4.3% after enrollment vs 4.5% before enrollment; relative risk [RR], 0.96 [95% CI, 0.89 to 1.03]), serious complications (11.1% after enrollment vs 11.0% before enrollment; RR, 0.96 [95% CI, 0.91 to 1.00]), reoperations (0.49% after enrollment vs 0.45% before enrollment; RR, 0.97 [95% CI, 0.77 to 1.16]), or readmissions (13.3% after enrollment vs 12.8% before enrollment; RR, 0.99 [95% CI, 0.96 to 1.03]). There were also no differences at 3 years after (vs before) enrollment in mean total Medicare payments ($40 [95% CI, -$268 to $348]), or payments for the index admission (-$11 [95% CI, -$278 to $257]), hospital readmission ($245 [95% CI, -$231 to $721]), or outliers (-$86 [95% CI, -$1666 to $1495]).
Conclusions and relevance: With time, hospitals had progressively better surgical outcomes but enrollment in a national quality reporting program was not associated with the improved outcomes or lower Medicare payments among surgical patients. Feedback on outcomes alone may not be sufficient to improve surgical outcomes.