In time, public reporting should prompt all hospitals to improve their EDs, hopefully in time for when more people receive coverage and seek care, and as baby boomers like me get closer to the day when the ED may mean the difference between life and death.
But hospitals need to get moving to find their vulnerabilities and smooth their flow, and this new public report of the data seems the perfect nudge to do that.
"The theory is that when hospitals report this information, it makes them focus on it, and improve throughout their ED," Pines says, "but it's very hard to do. Certain performance measures are easier to fix—like simple process measures like giving patients an aspirin—than improving ED throughput, which involves development of interdisciplinary teams."
"The good thing about having public reporting of all this is that it allows for a hospital's reputation to be tied to performance in its emergency department." It pushes hospital administrators to focus on the ED as well, he says.
Let's hope it does. And let's hope this big fat database improves so it can move this process along.