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Web Resource for Improving Health Care Debuts

A new Web site that allows health care providers, researchers, and professionals to conduct side-by-side comparisons of 4,500 hospitals nationwide, track performance over time, and download tools to improve the quality of health care made its debut on December 17., developed by The Commonwealth Fund with the assistance of IPRO, a not-for-profit health care evaluation and quality improvement organization, allows users to identify the top-performing hospitals in the country on 24 nationally recognized measures of health care quality, including care provided for such major conditions as heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia, and prevention of surgical infection, as well as measures of patients' care experiences. The site also enables users to search for and compare hospitals within the same geographic region, as well as those of similar size or type. Benchmark comparisons show how a hospital measures up against its peers—for example, within the same state, the top 10 percent of hospitals, or the national average. Users can quickly prepare charts showing trends in a hospital's quality performance over time. was conceived to address the high variability in health care quality documented in Why Not the Best: Results from the National Scorecard on U.S. Health System Performance, a report issued by The Commonwealth Fund for its Commission on a High Performance Health System in 2006 and updated in 2008.

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As its creators point out, provides more than just data. Case studies of high-performing hospitals and a library of tools offer lessons and strategies for improving care. Featured tools include materials created by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the American Heart Association, and top hospitals around the country.

"There are many report cards that measure quality of care, but is unique in that it allows providers to benchmark performance against leaders and track improvements, and it provides credible tools to help providers achieve better performance," said Anne-Marie Audet, M.D., Vice President, Quality Improvement and Efficiency, at The Commonwealth Fund.

Audet says that new measure sets, such as hospitals' 30-day readmission rates, and new functionality, like an “improvement calculator” for tracking progress in attaining quality benchmarks, will be added over time.

Robert Wachter, M.D., the associate chairman of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and one of the first members of the public to test the site, praised as a pragmatic quality improvement tool for hospitals. "In five minutes, I was able to compare my own hospital's performance on dozens of measures to those of other large teaching hospitals, to the best performers in California, and to national performance leaders," he said. "I was also able to trend our performance over time and read how innovators solved their own quality problems. represents the marriage of health care transparency and modern Web technologies, and the results are thrilling."

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