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Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality AHRQ

Health Care

Product News: Software Helps States Cut Costs, Time to Report Data Publicly

Free software solution will help organizations provide timely information to the public on hospital quality.

Published: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 - 13:25

(AHRQ: Rockville, Maryland) -- The Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently unveiled MONAHRQ—My Own Network Powered by AHRQ—a free, Microsoft Windows-based software application that significantly reduces the cost and time a state, hospital, or other organization would need to spend to compile, analyze, and post data on quality of hospital care, its cost, and how that care is used. MONAHRQ allows users to create a customized website with data that can be used for internal quality improvement or reporting quality information to the public.

The cost of creating a website with this data is estimated to be $300,000 or more, and the time required could be a year, according to states that tested MONAHRQ as it was being developed. With MONAHRQ, that time can be cut to a few days. Currently, many states require that quality data be reported publicly, and other states are considering doing so. For example, the Hawaii Health Information Corp., which tested MONAHRQ, plans to recommend that the state uses the AHRQ software application for that purpose.

A state or other organization, referred to as the “host user,” can download MONAHRQ from AHRQ’s website at http://monahrq.ahrq.gov/ and enter its own hospital administrative data, which includes such elements as patient characteristics, diagnoses, procedures, health insurance type, and charges. MONAHRQ processes that information and then creates a website the host user can customize by selecting a specific color scheme, inserting logos, and using other features.

“Building on AHRQ’s strong track record of developing innovative quality indicators and hospital reporting tools, MONAHRQ will revolutionize how states and others report data publicly or use it to improve health care quality,” says Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy, AHRQ director. “MONAHRQ also will help consumers make informed decisions about hospital care because they will have access to state-of-the art information.”

A website created using MONAHRQ will provide information in four areas:

Quality of care for specific hospitals—provides information about patient safety, patient deaths in the hospital, and other quality-related issues to answer questions such as, “Which hospitals have the lowest mortality rates after coronary bypass surgery?”

Provision of services by hospital for health conditions and procedures—provides information about the number of patient discharges, charges, costs, and length of hospitalizations for specific hospitals to answer questions such as, “Which hospitals perform the largest numbers of hip replacement surgeries? And what is the cost?”

Potentially avoidable hospitalizations—creates maps of county-by-county rates for potentially avoidable hospitalizations to answer questions such as, “Which counties have the highest rates of hospitalization for uncontrolled diabetes? And how much could be saved if these rates were reduced?”

Rates of health conditions and procedures—provides information about the prevalence of diseases or medical procedures through maps of county-by-county rates for selected conditions and procedures to answer questions such as, “Which counties have the highest rates of lung cancer?”

 

Although they both provide information to the public on hospital quality, websites generated by MONAHRQ users differ from HHS’s Hospital Compare website because of the information that is reported. For example, MONAHRQ users provide information on elements of care that are not offered by Hospital Compare, including outcome measures of quality by individual hospital (e.g., patient safety events and deaths; data on which high-volume procedures are associated with better outcomes, and preventable hospitalizations by county on conditions for which good outpatient care could avert the need for a hospital stay).

MONAHRQ also is a completely different way of generating the information. Using the MONAHRQ software, users generate a custom website on hospital quality using a step-by-step approach to analyzing the data and creating a site that they can then host.

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Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality AHRQ

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), supports research designed to improve the outcomes and quality of health care, reduce its costs, address patient safety and medical errors, and broaden access to effective services. The research sponsored, conducted, and disseminated by AHRQ provides information that helps people make better decisions about health care. Contact AHRQ online at www.ahrq.gov/info/customer.htm .