St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon has the cleanest bathrooms of any Pittsburgh-area hospital, while Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC has the lowest flu vaccination rate among its employees compared with 22 other U.S. pediatric hospitals.
The combined UPMC Presbyterian-Shadyside hospitals can boast one of the nation’s top pulmonology services in the country, but has the third-highest rate of “collapsed lung due to medical treatment” in the mid-Atlantic region.
Forbes Hospital in Monroeville, meanwhile, has the lowest 30-day mortality rate among Allegheny County hospitals due to pneumonia but the area’s highest percentage of patients who developed a blood clot in the hospital but “did not get treatment that could have prevented it.”
These rankings and comments come from Pittsburgh-based OnlyBoth’s recently launched online benchmarking engine hospitals.onlyboth.com, which is being heralded by the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative.
The site “has taken information that anybody can access right now, but he’s framing it in a digestible form for the average consumer,” said Keith Kanel, chief medical officer at the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative, which focuses on improving the region’s health care quality while reducing both costs and medical errors.
“We’ve been looking for a process like this and we hadn’t found anything quite like it. It really is quite singular,” he said.
Co-founder Raul Valdes-Perez said the data are based on 91 attributes for 4,813 U.S. hospitals, primarily using Medicare’s hospital comparision website and three rankings from the U.S. News and World Report listings.
Mr. Valdes-Perez says the intended targets are the hospitals themselves, rather than consumers, as a means of showing them how they’re doing against the competition. The information is organized to answer three questions: How are we doing? Where can we improve? What’s best in class?
“The software only report facts. There are no opinions, no extrapolations, no predictions,” Mr. Valdes-Perez said.
The attraction, said Dr. Kanel, is that the site allows a user to not only compare hospital-to-hospital performance, but also compares specialties within those hospitals. “We can drill down and see who the real experts are.”
Searches on the site are by individual hospital. The most interesting information comes under the “Where can we improve?” heading, which lays out where hospitals come up short. It is here where the site says UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside has a high rate of collapsed lungs and Allegheny General has a high death rate among stroke patients.
The results come without context: Does a high mortality rate indicate poor quality of care, or is it a sign the hospital’s expertise means the most fragile patients get sent there? The OnlyBoth results don’t explain.
Also, unless a hospital ranks near the top or the bottom in a particular area, the bench-marking engine “will find little to say,” said Mr. Valdes-Perez.
Dr. Kanel allows that “there is some additional work that has to be done,” including possibly adding a means for hospitals to respond or explain a poor ranking.
But he was struck by results showing “there are small community hospitals in Pennsylvania that really do a good job and they don’t get the recognition,” he said, singling out St. Clair in Mt. Lebanon as an example. “They don’t have the advertising budget, but they’re providing first-class care with astonishing results.”
Mr. Valdes-Perez said the idea is to simply present data in a usable form, so that hospitals can identify how they match up against their peers.
“I understand this is a very politically charged area. It’s not our intent to make people look bad or put them out of business. These are just facts,” he said.
“No matter how well you do, you can always do better. Even at Massachusetts General, there may be one thing they are not doing well.”
Steve Twedt: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1963.