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You can read Vail hospital’s report card

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL ” Vail Valley Medical patients can now check how well the hospital is doing and even compare it to the level of care at other hospitals

A statewide medical report card was created in 2006 by a state law so that patients, insurance companies and hospitals could compare health-care services. The nonprofit Colorado Hospital Association was chosen to create and monitor the online report card, which launched in late November.

It also helps insurance companies and hospital staff make comparisons to other hospitals in the state.



“Now hospitals can compare themselves to other hospitals and try to improve care. That’s one of the areas with the most potential,” said Richard Haugh, director of communications for the Colorado Hospital Association.

Vail Valley Medical rated average to above average on most of the indicators, although for some of the indicators, the hospital did not have enough cases to make a rating.



The report card grades in 34 different categories, from heart attacks to rates of post-surgery infection.

Previously, some hospitals voluntarily submitted such numbers to the state, but this report is much more in depth and comprehensive, Haugh said.

Vail Valley Medical has been part of another medical rating report, HealthGrade, for a few years, said Linda Brophy, senior vice president of clinical operations at Vail Valley Medical.



HealthGrade allows patients to see how both hospitals and individual doctors rate on specific procedures as well as general care. Patients can get detailed reports for a fee.

Patients should be careful when looking at both reports and know what specific indicators to look for, Brophy said.

One major marker for the reports is mortality rate, Brophy said.

However, the valley tends to have a lower mortality rate than other communities, so those measures are not the best evaluations for this area, she said.

“We just don’t have pulmonary, cardiac and those kind of patient populations,” she said. “We’re primarily an orthopedic, back-and-neck surgery community.”

A good quality indicator for Vail Valley Medical is patient safety, which are measures that hospitals can take once patients are admitted into the hospital to prevent potential complications, such as infections or bedsores.

Vail Valley Medical rated was rated as “average” or “as expected” by both the report card and Health Grade.

“Still, we always want to improve, we can always do better,” Brophy said.

One way the hospital is trying to improve is through the “5 Million Lives Campaign.” The nationwide campaign aims to make hospitals safer through reducing the chance of staph “superbug” infections by checking medical records to identify “at-risk” patients and requiring all staff to wash hands before treating patients.

Patients can also look at how well Eagle County is scoring as far as taking prevention measures. Prevention measures reflect proper treatment of health problems, like asthma or diabetes, outside of the hospital that may prevent a hospital stay or further complications.

Eagle County scored pretty well ” average or lower on most problems like asthma, lung disease and chest pain.

Eagle County does have a higher incidence of low birth weight deliveries, which some doctors attribute both to altitude and to a fitter population.

“A smaller, fitter population will keep birth weights down,” said Dr. Victoria Mohr, an obstetrician. “Despite that, babies here are very robust and adapt well. It’s not an unhealthy thing.”

The report cards also could affect how much insurance companies reimburse hospitals in the future, Brophy said.

Hospitals that take more precautions may get reimbursed more, but now companies may start looking at the actual results, such as numbers of infections, to determine how much hospitals will get.

“Now insurance companies are starting to ask hospitals to demonstrate quality outcomes,” Brophy said. “It’s not what you’ve done, it’s what actually happened.”

http://www.cohospitalquality.org

http://www.healthgrade.com

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.


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