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AHRQ Releases First Compendium of Hospital System Data

Wed, Oct 4, 2017  -  Comments (0)  -   Posted by Michele Fancher

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has released for the first time a national dataset on hospital systems. The new AHRQ data compendium includes hospital system data from 626 systems representing 70 percent of U.S. hospitals, 88 percent of hospital beds, and 92 percent of discharges. The online resource was developed by the agency’s Comparative Health System Performance (CHSP) Initiative, a collaborative to examine systems’ use of evidence-based medicine and explore factors that contribute to high performance.

The new hospital system data compendium defines systems as networks of at least one hospital connected by ownership to one or more groups of physicians. Included in the compendium are such system characteristics as number of hospitals, acute-care beds, discharges, and physicians, as well as whether a system serves children.

While the dataset does allow for an understanding of the nation’s hospital systems, it has limitations. Chief among those is the exclusion of individual hospitals that do not meet the definition of a system. This includes a number of hospitals in Ohio. The public dataset also only includes system-level data, which compromises the ability to slice the data by geographic area, when hospital systems cross state or regional lines.

According to the data, the largest health system in the country based on the number of both beds, with 34,532, and discharges, with 1,733,151, is HCA, while the health system with by far the largest number of physicians is Kaiser Permanente, with 20,300. 

Of the nation’s 626 hospital systems:

  • 26 percent are high teaching intensity.
  • 31 percent include at least one hospital with a high percentage of low-income patients.
  • 35 percent include at least one hospital with a high uncompensated care burden.
The data also indicate hospital systems include:
  • 63 percent of hospitals with high uncompensated care burdens.
  • 75 percent of hospitals with high percentages of low-income populations. 
According to the data, the five largest Ohio-based systems determined by discharges are:
  • Mercy Health
  • The Cleveland Clinic Health System
  • OhioHealth
  • University Hospitals
  • ProMedica Health System
It should be noted, however, that in the case of systems that cross state lines, the discharges counts include those from all hospitals, not just those located in Ohio.

  % of Hospitals
in Health Systems

% of Hospital Discharges
from Health Systems

% of Hospital Discharges
from Multi-State Health Systems 
Ohio   78.5
94.6
25.7
U.S.  
69.4
89.9
33.6


The compendium draws hospital system data from a variety of sources, including the American Hospital Association Annual Survey Database.

AHRQ expects the compendium to evolve over time and acknowledges the need to consider alternative definitions of health systems.

Posted in Hospital Finance
About the Author

Michele Fancher

After graduating from THE Ohio State University and spending 17 years living in Ohio, I relocated a few years back to the Boston area. But I left my heart in the Buckeye State and I’m thrilled to remain a part of The Center for Health Affairs and the vibrant healthcare community in Northeas...

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