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W.Va. hospitals taking part in quality project

September 14, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - City Hospital in Martinsburg and Jefferson Memorial Hospital on Ranson, W.Va., are two of about 40 hospitals in the state that are participating in a federal project aimed at helping patients compare and choose facilities for treatment.

Barbara Sherman, City Hospital's director of quality and risk management, said a number of reasons prompted City Hospital to participate.

"It gives the community a chance to take a look at us and see how well we're doing," she said.

The hospitals have submitted information about their operations to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which plans to evaluate hospitals nationwide on 10 quality measures - five for heart attack patients, two for heart failure patients and three for pneumonia.

The agency's evaluations will be released to the public online at www.medicare.gov in early 2005.

Reviewing the data also will allow hospital officials to know in which areas they need to improve and in which areas improvements have been made, Sherman said.

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Having data about the hospital publicly available enables people to directly see how City Hospital compares with other facilities in the area.

"It kind of holds you to a higher standard," Sherman said.

City Hospital has been collecting such data for almost two years, Sherman said.

On a practical note, hospitals were given a financial incentive to participate.

Those that submitted information will receive full Medicare payment for their services. Those that do not participate will see their annual Medicare payments reduced by 0.4 percent.

"I think it's revolutionary," said Dr. Mark Stephens, principal clinical coordinator of the West Virginia Medical Institute. "This is the first time ever that the public can look at how hospitals are doing. It's about time."

Stephens said the agency also plans to evaluate new national patient satisfaction surveys for each hospital.

West Virginia was the first state in which all eligible hospitals participated, said Jim Kranz, vice president of professional activities for the West Virginia Hospital Association.

Some hospitals, including critical access facilities, were not eligible to participate because their charges are reimbursed fully by Medicare or they do not participate in the Medicare program.




The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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