Hospital performance data helps patients make informed decisions

The American Heart Association’s public reporting website is a new resource to help patients make informed decisions about their care. Written in consumer-friendly language, it details hospitals’ adherence to the latest evidence-based treatment guidelines for atrial fibrillation, heart failure, stroke, heart attack and in-hospital cardiac arrest.

Users can search for participating hospitals by ZIP code or city and state, and by the medical conditions of interest to them.

The website draws on over 9 million confidential patient records collected from more than 2,400 hospitals nationwide through the AHA’s Get With The Guidelines® quality improvement programs. Studies have shown the programs are an important tool for improving patient results.

“The data available from the American Heart Association may be unmatched in its volume and its utility in understanding guideline-directed care adherence in hospitals across the United States,” said Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, longtime AHA volunteer and Quality Improvement leader and director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “Transparency of the data available about hospital quality, and trends that data can show, is a significant step in improving patient outcomes.”

U.S. News & World Report calls the reporting site “an important step forward in health care transparency” and plans to incorporate such clinical registry-derived information into its hospital-ranking methodologies.

John Meiners, chief of mission-aligned businesses and health care solutions for the AHA, agreed about the importance of transparency.

“Making data available to help consumers understand their health care options and make informed decisions is an essential step toward transparency,” he said. “It also allows hospitals to get credit from health plans for voluntary public reporting and meeting hospital accreditation requirements.”

Hospitals that aren’t already among the nearly 600 participating in the new public reporting website have until Dec. 9 to join — or they must wait until the site’s annual spring enrollment period. Hospitals interested in learning more about participating in the program should contact the AHA at AHA.QIContracts@heart.org.