The American Hospital Association does excellent work in representing the views and interests of hospitals across America, and it genuinely seeks to help frame medical and hospital issues in a way that serves the public interest.
But because it is a membership-based organization, it can be hard to be as aggressive on some issues as the times call for. One such discussion is going on right now. The Association is considering a number of strategic performance commitments, one of which is to "advance a health care delivery system that improves health and health care."
I can't argue against that goal, but the manner in which it would be pursued and quantified is weak. See the slide above. It is the draft of what is being discussed by hospital associations across the country.
The first two items are certainly worthy, but the manner in which they are measured is problematic. The metric is a three-year running average produced by CMS and published a year after the year is over. Accordingly, no one will know if the 2012 target is met until 2014.
Why rely on administrative data collected by CMS when every hospital has its own data in real time? Why use a three-year rolling average when we are trying to demonstrate progress over the coming year or two?
The third goal, to achieve improvements in central line infection rates, is simply inadequate on its face. The idea of taking three years to move from the 2009 baseline of 5 cases per thousand patient days to a new target of 1 in 2012 does not reflect the deadliness of hospital acquired infections nor the progress that any hospital can make to reduce them in just in a few months.
The target for central line infections should be zero. That is the only intellectually compelling goal. The time period for doing this should be much, much shorter.