Missouri Hospitals Launch Consumer Website With Enhanced Price, Quality Data

February 3, 2016

Focus on Hospitals, the Missouri Hospital Association’s consumer-focused website, now will offer pricing data for participating Missouri hospitals. The launch of pricing data is concurrent with a complete revision of Missouri’s hospital quality transparency program. The quality reporting aspect of the site is designed to provide Missouri consumers with the most current and relevant data available on hospitals’ work to prevent infections, manage readmissions and reduce harm.

“Health care consumers want to understand the value of the care they receive,” said Herb B. Kuhn, MHA President and CEO. “The new Focus on Hospitals website provides price and quality data together on a single website. This will allow consumers to research hospitals prior to discussing treatment options with their caregiver.”

The Focus on Hospitals homepage provides a short video to help consumers understand how to use the site and why the data are important. The site includes three separate datasets — hospital pricing, quality of care and community investment. Consumers can select a hospital, review the hospital’s price, quality or community investment data, and compare these data against a statewide average and a second hospital.

Hospital Pricing

The prices included on Focus on Hospitals are from hospitals’ standard charges for the top 100 most common inpatient procedures and for emergency care. The prices do not reflect negotiated rates from insurance providers, or Medicare or Medicaid fixed payments. Consumers who pay out of pocket can often receive a self-pay discount — these discount rates are listed on the site. Missourians without health insurance, or the ability to pay for their care, can apply for additional discounts or charity care through a hospital’s financial assistance program.

Understanding hospital pricing isn’t easy. Prices at hospitals vary and consumers are sometimes faced with a different price tag for the same procedure.

Quality of Care

Focus on Hospitals is designed to help consumers understand, evaluate and compare the quality of Missouri hospitals. Significant efforts have been made to explain hospital quality in plain language.

The release includes data on 23 measures categorized into four areas — managing chronic diseases, reducing readmissions, preventing infections and reducing harm. The quality of care measures were selected based on agreement from Missouri providers, and national organizations and experts. The information displayed is collected from patient discharge records for all hospital types. However, some hospitals do not treat patients with these conditions and therefore may not have information displayed in some categories.

There are many factors that affect health care outcomes. For example, age, race and ethnicity, education, community setting, environment, poverty, nutrition, and current health status all may affect how well a patient responds to treatment both immediately and long-term. Based on new research and suggestions, the readmission data on Focus on Hospitals have been adjusted for age, past medical history, other diseases or conditions, Medicaid status and neighborhood poverty rate. Since this dataset will be unique to the site, the observed rate and adjusted rate — using the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ model — will appear in a drop-down within the measure.

Some hospitals are not participating in the program. Other hospitals may not treat patients with a selected condition or have insufficient volume of patients with the conditions to allow for meaningful comparison. In the cases of non-participation or insufficient volume, a notation will appear.

Community Investment

Focus on Hospitals also includes the community investment data for 2013. This dataset helps explain hospitals’ contributions to their communities through uncompensated care, absorbing the unpaid costs of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, expenses to train the health care workforce, free clinic services, and donations to local causes. In 2013, the cost of these services exceeded $1.1 billion statewide. These data will be updated in early 2016.

Hospitals deliver significant value to the communities they serve,” Kuhn said. “Through the delivery of safety-net care, support of local causes and improved community health, hospitals are making Missouri a better, healthier place to live.”

To participate in a media briefing on this site at 10:30 a.m., Feb. 3, dial 1-800-351-6806 and enter passcode: MHA