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CU Statement On Release Of Statewide Hospital Quality Report

October 8, 2002

Statement by Lisa McGiffert
Senior Policy Analyst, Consumers Union
on today’s release of statewide hospital quality report

“Today’s release of the first statewide hospital quality report is a landmark event that should be celebrated by all Texans. With this report, Texas is at the forefront of states in implementing a healthcare initiative. We’re the first state to use these “inpatient quality indicators” developed by the federal government.
Seven years ago, Consumers Union worked for the passage of the bill that created the Texas Healthcare Information Council to collect patient-level discharge data from Texas hospitals. The ultimate purpose of this report – to be released periodically in Texas – is to improve the quality of care provided by hospitals and physicians.
The Council’s report, now available online to everyone (at www.thcic.state.tx.us ), will be useful to individuals looking to undergo a medical procedure who want to increase their chances for a successful outcome. It will be valuable for both employers and workers looking to enroll in a particular health plan who want to check on how hospitals in that health plan’s network performed.
The data in the report has been adjusted to account for differences in age, sex, severity of illness and mortality risk. Also, it’s worthy to note that, in gathering the underlying data for this report, patient confidentiality has been strictly protected.
The report marks an important first step in fostering hospital competition based on quality of care but improvements will be needed to make it more consumer friendly in the future. The report being made available today requires consumers to do more work to access the information than they should. It gives comparisons of hospitals within an area on each specific measure. However, the reader is not able to easily see how a given hospital performs across-the-board on all 25 quality indicators. That information must be compiled manually. The Council has developed a file that could be used to sort the information and has made it available to hospitals for a $100 fee.
Although not easily digestible, Texans will now have information to help them when making critical healthcare decisions. We hope this report will foster accountability and competition in quality of care among hospitals and physicians. We commend the Council today, and look forward to working with them to improve the process in the months and years ahead.”
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Consumers Union Southwest Office
(512) 477-4431