U.S. hospitals improving stoke, heart care

March 28, 2013 at 10:59 PM
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CHICAGO, March 28 (UPI) -- For-profit U.S. hospitals are outperforming other hospitals when treating stroke, heart attack and pneumonia patients in emergency rooms, researchers say.

The new, mandatory Hospital Inpatient Value-Based Purchasing Program, which went into effect last October, provides financial rewards or penalties based on achievement or improvement on several publicly reported quality measures.

Dr. Rahul Khare of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and an emergency medicine physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital said the for-profits were more likely to receive bonuses under Medicare's new payment rules, but non-profit and public are making noticeable improvements and many might be eligible for bonuses, too.

"Hospitals owned by for-profits are hitting their quality markers frequently and, therefore, will fare well under the program," Khare said in a statement. "And though non-profit and public hospitals scored lower on quality, many won't lose out because they are improving."

The researchers merged 2008-10 performance data from nearly 3,000 hospitals nationwide. They calculated a score for each hospital based on its performance on four different emergency department measures for stroke, heart and pneumonia.

The study, published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, found the average performance scores were 50 for for-profits, 35 for non-profit hospitals and 30 for public hospitals. The scores of for-profit hospitals were more often driven based on achievement of quality targets, while the scores for public hospitals were often driven based on improvement rather than achievement, Khare said.

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