Leapfrog Group CEO: Wisconsin hospital safety scores improving, although fewer voluntarily providing data

Wisconsin Health News Update – May 17, 2016

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While nationwide more hospitals are voluntarily providing data to the Leapfrog Group, the number in Wisconsin has declined, according to the watchdog organization’s CEO.

The number of reporting hospitals has grown 43 percent since 2011 to about 1,750, which is roughly 60 percent of hospital beds in the country, according to Leah Binder, Leapfrog president and CEO, who spoke at The Alliance’s annual seminar in Madison last week.

But the number of hospitals reporting in Wisconsin “dropped dramatically” around the time the group launched its safety score in 2012, which assigns a letter grade to facilities.

“We’re seeing a little bit of improvement in the last few years, but this is a distressing picture,” Binder said. The total number of Wisconsin hospitals participating and providing data declined 74 percent since 2011.

About 9 percent of hospitals voluntarily report in the state, which is the same percentage as in Iowa. In Illinois, 49 percent of hospitals report. The national average is 46 percent.

Kelly Court, Wisconsin Hospital Association Chief Quality Officer, said in a statement that they haven’t asked their members why they do or do not participate in the group’s survey.

“There are many different organizations and agencies that collect and report data related to patient safety and quality,” Court said, citing WHA’s program, CheckPoint.

Leapfrog’s safety grades use federal data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Volunteering data doesn’t influence the score, although it provides a better picture of a hospital’s’ efforts, Binder said.

The most recent grades were released in April. About 53 percent of hospitals in Wisconsin received an A, which ranked the state seventh in the nation in terms of the percentage of facilities receiving the highest grade.

During the fall 2015 survey, Wisconsin was 18th. Leapfrog added two additional outcome measures as well as five measures of patient reporting experience to its April rankings.

Even so, hospitals receiving A’s still have work to do, Binder said.

“None of them are perfect,” Binder said. “And over time, Leapfrog will continue to raise the bar when it comes to an A until we feel comfortable that A hospitals are safer.”

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