The VA Mission Act of 2018 allows for choice of health care for 9 million veterans in their community, but deciding where the best care is requires transparency. Recent reports questioning the transparency of reporting health care outcomes in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the largest US health care organization, pointed to flaws in how VA tracks and improves performance, and posed questions about the validity and transparency of using popular hospital ratings systems to define good care. To explore this further, the authors examined 3 widely referenced public health care ranking models - U.S. News America's Best Hospitals, Truven Health Analytics, and Hospital Compare - and the VA model. Upon examination, the authors find that metrics used across the 4 models are neither comparable nor transparent. Between 6%-46% reporting deficiencies were found in reporting of hospital metrics in non-VA hospitals, which reduces transparency for the public. In contrast, VA reporting is 100%. Comparing VA health care and Hospital Compare quality outcomes showed similar or better outcomes for VA for the same metrics of quality and for comparable health care costs. VA inpatient satisfaction falls significantly short of the private sector, but no individual VA outcome measure was found to contribute significantly to inpatient satisfaction. However, overall inpatient satisfaction increased over time with higher global hospital ranking in both VA and non-VA health care. Encouraging use of uniform rating models and reporting of metrics from all hospitals would improve transparency of current health care reporting to the consumer.
Keywords: public reporting; quality of care; veteran care.