Altarum Creates Framework for Employers to Improve Quality of Inpatient Care

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Altarum headquarters in Ann Arbor. Photo by Dwight Burdette via Wikimedia Commons.

Altarum headquarters in Ann Arbor. Photo by Dwight Burdette via Wikimedia Commons.

ANN ARBOR — Coinciding with the release Wednesday of the fall 2012 results on www.HospitalSafetyScore.org, Altarum Institute has released a new white paper describing strategies employers can use to increase the safety and quality of hospital care their employees receive and describes successful approaches used by leading employers across the United States.

The report, Steering Employees Toward Safer Care, is available on the Altarum.org Web site.

“The first issue is transparency. Employees and their families should be able to pick a hospital based on the safety and quality of care it delivers,” said Wendy Lynch, co-director of Altarum’s Center for Consumer Choice in Health Care. “We applaud Leapfrog for advancing transparency on behalf of its purchaser and other employer members. The differences between safe and unsafe hospitals are dramatic. Every hospital should be required to report its performance and every consumer should know how to find the information. As major purchasers of care, employers play a critical role in making sure both of these things happen.”

And, she said, “While Hospital Safety Scores are certainly not the only metric employers can use to guide employee choices, and are not without controversy and objections from hospitals receiving lower scores, the purpose they serve is crucial.”

Every year, more than a million American patients are injured from preventable errors in hospitals, and nearly 100,000 die as a result. In addition to the tragic loss of life, these errors cost Americans an estimated $28.4 billion to $33.8 billion in excess health care costs as well as associated absences and lost productivity each year. The most appalling aspect of these errors, which include hospital-acquired infections, medication errors, and procedural mistakes, is that virtually all of them are avoidable through the implementation of known, low-cost, best practices and evidence-based clinical guidelines.

These scores and more will be the highlight of Leapfrog’s annual meeting on Dec. 4 in Baltimore. The theme for the conference is “Coming Clean: How Hospital Transparency Will Transform Patient Safety” and calls for no more easily preventable deaths at our nation’s hospitals.

For more information on the strategic white paper, visit www.Altarum.org/csi/CCCHC. Leapfrog hospital survey results can be found at www.leapfroggroup.org/cp and the hospital safety scores released today can be seen at www.hospitalsafetyscore.org.

Altarum Institute provides research and consulting to health care organizations.

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