Online Tool Helps Consumers Compare Hospitals

When preparing for an elective surgery, it’s important to research which hospital provides the best care for that particular procedure. Thanks to U.S. News and World Report, that just got a little easier.

This month, it released the “Best Hospitals for Common Care” tool, which provides ratings for 4,600 hospitals in the country, evaluating the facility on five common surgical procedures and medical conditions.

It evaluates three common surgeries: heart bypass surgery and hip and knee replacements. Together these procedures account for 1.4 million surgeries per year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Also included in the evaluation are two common chronic conditions: congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. About 5.1 million Americans have heart failure and about 15 million have been diagnosed with COPD, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The tool is an encouraging step towards more transparency in hospital procedure so that consumers can make informed decisions about where they are treated.

“We are now on the cusp of being able to provide consumers with concrete, hospital, level, very specific information about volumes and performance,” Ben Harder, chief of health analysis for U.S. News and World Report, said.

According to U.S. News’ analysis, about 10% of hospitals rated in each condition were high performing, and another 10% were low performing. Only 34 hospitals received high performing ratings in all five procedures and conditions.

Harder said the next step for this tool is to expand it to include more procedures and conditions, a goal he says will be reached as soon as 2016. It’s a vital resource consumers are in immediate need of.

“If you’re going to get an elective procedure, you generally have time to do research,” Harder said. “And if you’re going to choose, you should have full information about how experienced the hospital is treating that condition and how good their performance measures are.

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