Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Hospital Data Available Throughout USA

I'm pretty excited about the announcement by USA TODAY that they are providing a geographically-searchable database of hospital outcomes. If you go to U.S. Hospital Death Rates, you can see how well hospitals in your state or your community treat heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia patients (by seeing which percent of the patients don't survive.)

Last fall, I heard Brian Klepper make the case that a key part of the solution to the national health care crisis was greater transparency in medical outcome data. And he argued that this transparency will come -- must come -- from private sector actors. And he suggested that this movement was both inevitable and imminent.

So this effort from the USA TODAY is a first shot across the bow. Go to this page and enter your zip code and a distance, then see the results of the hospitals in your area. Select three hospitals to compare, then get the graphs. The data is risk-adjusted, meaning it takes into consideration how sick the patients were when they entered, and the data is presented within a context of the national averages. I could quickly see that if I have heart failure coming on, our local Mayo Clinic is better than the national average at treating it.

This might be a really useful tool for community indicator projects. In my community, we currently measure community satisfaction levels with the quality of health care available, as well as age-adjusted death rates for a variety of things. But we don't have a really good way to talk about the quality of our health care system, except by anecdote. This could be an important step.

Now we need more. If you have other links for transparent outcome data for hospitals/doctors/health care systems, please pass it on. If you have innovative indicators to share, pass them on as well -- let's see how different communities are addressing this issue.


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