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Report: quality-of-care incentives did not reduce hospital death-rates


UNDATED (WSAU) A new report said death rates did not go down, after a six-year experiment that rewarded hospitals for improving their quality of care.

Wisconsin’s largest hospital chain, Aurora of Milwaukee, was among the top performers in the project. It received almost $2-million in extra Medicare payments for achieving benchmarks during the program. But in general, researchers at Harvard said the experiment showed how difficult it is to measure quality – even though it’s vital in making sure that Americans get more value for their health care dollars.

Starting this fall, the federal health care law is scheduled to start giving financial incentives to hospitals which are based on their quality. The study in which Aurora Health Care participated measured 33 procedures for Medicare patients – like whether patients were given antibiotics within a prescribed time limit before-and-after surgery. But John Toussaint of the Theda-Care Center for Health-Care Value in Neenah says patients care much more about outcomes than the processes which were highlighted in the study.

But experts say outcomes are much harder to quantify.