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Hospital Quality Reporting: Separating the Signal from the Noise

Policy Analysis Examines Quality Measurement and Reporting in the Context of Health Plan Contracting and Benefit Designs to Guide Patients to Higher-Performing Hospitals

Media Advisory
April 25, 2013

Alwyn Cassil (202) 264-3484 or

WASHINGTON, DC—Amid the proliferation of quality measures, reporting requirements and transparency efforts, purchasers often find it difficult to separate the signal from the noise when determining what hospital quality measures are important, how to interpret and use quality information in a meaningful way, and how to present useful and actionable information to consumers, according to a new Policy Analysis from the nonprofit, nonpartisan National Institute for Health Care Reform (NIHCR).

Written by researchers at Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC), the policy analysis provides an overview of the quality measure development process and types of available data and measurement; outlines ways hospital quality indicators might help shape contracting and benefit design decisions; and discusses ways purchasers can help make quality information more available, reliable and actionable.

“Gaps in hospital safety and quality have prompted public and private payers to push for greater accountability through clinical quality measurement and reporting initiatives, which have grown rapidly in the past two decades. With U.S. health care costs high and rising, purchasers increasingly are seeking to identify high-value hospitals that deliver good care at a reasonable price. Some payers are incorporating clinical quality measurement into health plan contracting and benefit designs to alter provider networks and patient cost sharing to guide patients toward higher-performing hospitals,” the analysis states.

The Policy Analysis—Hospital Quality Reporting: Separating the Signal from the Noise—is available online at and was written by Emily R. Carrier, M.D., M.S.C.I., an HSC senior researcher; and Dori A. Cross, an HSC health research assistant.

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The Center for Studying Health System Change is a nonpartisan policy research organization committed to providing objective and timely research on the nation’s changing health system to help inform policy makers and contribute to better health care policy. HSC, based in Washington, D.C., is affiliated with Mathematica Policy Research.



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The Center for Studying Health System Change Ceased operation on Dec. 31, 2013.