3 Reasons You Should Pay Attention to Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Score

40% of Hospitals Receive a C, D, or F Rating According to Leapfrog

The controversy about healthcare’s rating agencies continues. Whether it’s that we don’t like their choice of measures, or how the data is risk adjusted, the most recent complaints are that there are too many of them and they all measure different things.

Regardless, rating agencies aren’t going away. Their measures and methods are becoming more sophisticated, and patient interest in hospital quality information continue to increase. And frankly, many quality leaders find their information useful and informative – some such as myself will use this information to help develop our quality and safety priorities for the near term. One such source is Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Score.

Why You Should Follow Your Hospital Safety Score

First, Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Score is targeted at consumers and is intended to help them “select a hospital that is prepared to protect them from harm and error.” This is reason enough to follow your score. It seems that anything less than an A, and possibly a B would be embarrassing. It’s also hard to explain when asked why your organization has a C, D, or F by the media, your board, your community leaders, your employers, and your health plan partners.

Second, Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Score is very useful as you plan develop your annual quality plan and your safety priorities. In fact, it’s one of several external rating tools that I use every year to create my annual quality and safety plan. When combined with Leapfrog’s safety survey, you’ll get a comprehensive look at your internal safety program, and closing the gaps it identifies should be a priority.

And finally, you should follow your score and ensure it’s at the top, because if it’s not, your competitors may use their score (if it’s better than yours) to augment their marketing efforts and establish a competitive advantage based on patient safety. There’s no reason to let them beat you to it.

How Your Hospital Safety Score is Calculated

Hospital Safety Scores are assigned to more than twenty-five hundred hospitals across the nation twice annually. It uses measures from the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey and Health Information Technology Supplement. Taken together, these performance measures produce a single score representing a hospital’s overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors. The Hospital Safety Score includes twenty-eight measures, all currently in use by national measurement and reporting programs.

The Leapfrog Safety Score Was Developed by Leading Safety Experts

The Hospital Safety Score was developed under the guidance of a six-member Blue Ribbon Expert Panel. They selected the measures and developed the scoring methodology. The Panel is made up of patient safety experts from leading universities across the country:

•Arnold Milstein, MD, MPH, Stanford University

•Peter Pronovost, MD, PhD, FCCM, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

•Patrick Romano, MD, MPH, University of California-Davis

•Sara Singer, PhD, Harvard University

•Timothy J. Vogus, PhD, Vanderbilt University

•Robert Wachter, MD, University of California-San Francisco

I recommend using the Leapfrog survey and safety score in a couple of ways. First, the survey is a perfect tool to evaluate how your organization has operationalized efforts to prevent errors. The survey gets more sophisticated each year, and I also consider it the gold standard for benchmarking some of the most important aspects of patient safety.

The Leapfrog Safety Score is an elegant measure simplifying many of the most important attributes of patient safety into an easily understandable scoring system. And it was developed by some of the best safety experts in the nation. With this measure, it is easy to say to your board and executive team that anything less than an “A” is unacceptable. And it’s certainly embarrassing if you have to explain why you have a C, D, or F.

And the folks at Leapfrog have an interesting statistic that shows, on average, an admission will cost $1,800 less at an A-graded hospital over a C, D, or F-graded hospital. It seems top in patient safety leads to lower healthcare costs. That’s the value proposition in action.

I hope you found this information helpful. I’d love to hear how you’ve used your Leapfrog Safety Score to fuel your internal improvement efforts. Leave a comment below. Thanks!