Hospital performance on trio of medical conditions may predict quality of broader hospital care

How well a hospital performs on three major publicly reported conditions—heart attack, congestive heart failure, and pneumonia—may prove a useful tool in signaling overall hospital mortality rates, according to a new Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) study. Examining Medicare data from 2,322 acute care hospitals from 2008 through 2009, the authors found that mortality rates for publicly reported medical conditions are correlated with hospitals’ overall performance.

The study appeared online June 24, 2013 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Led by Marta McCrum, research fellow in the HSPH Department of Health Policy and Management, and senior author Ashish Jha, professor of health policy and management, researchers found that hospitals performing in the top quartile on the three publicly reported measures had five times better odds of also being in the top set on a more global measure of quality—overall risk-adjusted mortality.

The ability of these three metrics to reflect broader hospital performance is “extremely important,” wrote the authors of an accompanying commentary about the study. “We do not have to measure every aspect of quality to get a sense of overall quality.”

Other HSPH authors included Atul Gawande, professor, and Karen Joynt, instructor, both from the Department of Health Policy and Management; and E. John Orav, associate professor of biostatistics.

Read the JAMA Internal Medicine abstract

Read the accompanying commentary in JAMA Internal Medicine