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MIT Economists Find Hospital Rankings Do Hold Up With Some Basic Metrics Effectively Diagnosing Care Quality

A study co-authored by MIT economists indicates that some fundamental metrics do, in fact, provide real insight about hospital quality, writes MIT News. The study results suggest a substantial improvement in health if you go to a hospital where the quality scores are higher. Overall, the study shows, when patient sickness levels are accounted for, hospitals that score well on quality measures have 30-day readmission rates that are 15 percent lower than a set of lesser-rated hospitals, and 30-day mortality rates that are 17 percent lower.

The paper, “Evaluating Measures of Hospital Quality: Evidence from Hospital Referral Patterns,” appears in the Review of Economics and Statistics. Researchers analyzed patient data primarily from Medicare claims made across the country during the period 2008–2012 and covered more than 170,000 hospital admissions for patients who had just suffered a health event requiring “nondiscretionary” hospital admission. The patients also fit some basic criteria, such as not having previously been admitted recently for the same condition. In addition to analyzing 30-day readmission and mortality rates, the researchers looked at patient satisfaction levels. All these criteria, and more, are commonly used in hospital assessments. The researchers also found a 37-percent difference in one-year mortality, among highly rated and lower-rated hospitals.

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