Meridian Health launches quality reporting website in name of transparency, improvement

As patients' appetites grow for quality metrics from their healthcare providers, so have the number of sources they can look to for that information. In addition to CMS' Hospital Compare, several other ratings organizations and companies publish publicly reported hospital quality data, and it can be confusing for patients to know what information is helpful and where to find it.

Patients of Hackensack (N.J.) Meridian Health, however, are in luck. They don't have to look further than Meridian Health's website for that information.

Starting in June, Meridian Health made performance reports on all seven of its hospitals available online at (While Hackensack and Meridian Health merged in June, for now, quality information is only available for Meridian Health's legacy hospitals.)

"I felt like it was important to be more transparent with our community, and we wanted to also begin to educate our community on some of the things that we felt were important when making healthcare decisions," says Marty Scott, MD, co-chief quality officer of Hackensack Meridian Health. The fact that patients are increasingly taking on more financial responsibility for their care also played a role in getting the quality data website off the ground.

"Consumers are going to have 'skin in the game,' so we felt like we needed to get ahead of that so they have the opportunity to make informed decisions," he says.

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Members of the community even played a role in shaping the quality website: The Meridian Health team queried community members on what kind of information they would find useful when making their own healthcare decisions. Dr. Scott and his team also sought input from senior leaders at the hospitals and the physician community before taking the project up the chain of command to the board.

The whole process, from concept to its June launch, took about nine months.

The final report cards include information already publicly reported elsewhere. The website displays patient experience scores (pulled from five HCAHPS questions), readmission rates and rates of certain healthcare-associated infections for each Meridian Health hospital.

One of the advantages of Meridian Health reporting its own data is that it is much newer than the data displayed by Hospital Compare and other sources. While Hospital Compare data can be over a year old, the data on is two to three months old.

"It's already out there, but it's old… [and] very confusing," Dr. Scott says. "Now we own it, and put it into a format we believe would be easier for folks in our community to understand, and it's more current."

Keeping data more current allows Meridian Health to more immediately show patients progress its hospitals are making on HAIs, readmissions and patient experience improvement.

"We want people to be engaged with our opportunity for improvement," Dr. Scott says. "They'll see some data that looks really good, but also [data] that could be better, and we know it can be better, and we're working on it."

Down the road, Dr. Scott sees potential for the website to evolve into something more. For one, Meridian is considering adding physician ratings to its website, similar to what University of Utah Health Sciences in Salt Lake City and Mount Sinai Health System in New York City have done.

Further, he says the medical staff is interested in posting non-publicly reported data by service line, which would give the community a better sense of what to expect if they encounter a specific health event, like a heart attack or hip replacement.

Either way, Meridian's quality website will help "tell a comprehensive story" so consumers can make educated decisions about their care with the most up-to-date information available.

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