American Hospital Directory puts hospital outpatient data free on the Internet

Louisville 11 March 2003Important new information about a hospital's outpatient services and charges is available free on the Internet. The American Hospital Directory (AHD) has been providing the operating details of virtually every hospital in the United States as a free on-line service since September 1997. On-line reports describe a hospital's general characteristics, services provided, financial information, volumes, average lengths of stay, average charges and much more. The free service is provided to over 3000 users each day.

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The data on the AHD Web site is gleaned from every acute care hospital that treats Medicare patients. These hospitals are required to submit annual reports detailing their financial operations to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Studies (CMS) and their Medicare claims are available in public use files that have been encrypted to protect patient confidentiality. AHD presents these data in easily accessible, user-friendly reports that are consistent with CMS Data Release policies.

The Medicare programme introduced a new outpatient prospective payment system in August 2000. This system groups hospital outpatient services into Ambulatory Payment Classifications (APCs) and pays hospitals a predetermined amount for each APC. The AHD Web site reports a hospital's average charges, payments, and costs for the twenty APCs with the highest revenue for the 12 months ending March 30, 2002. These Top 20 APCs typically represent about half of the hospital's total outpatient revenue. Hospitals will find the information useful in benchmarking their performance and market share among peers. Patients will find the information useful in comparing prices and services among hospitals.

Paul Shoemaker, Chairman of American Hospital Directory stated: "This new addition to the AHD Web site is timely because people are now taking more responsibility in health care decisions. They want to know which hospitals are most efficient, demonstrate the best outcomes, and specialise in the services they seek. Volumes and average charges for individual diagnoses, procedures, and ambulatory patient groupings are also very important at a time when hospitals are learning to manage effectively under a new prospective payment system for Medicare outpatient services and when health plans and other payers are seeking to contract with hospitals for outpatient services."

Accessing the primary level of information is free. AHD also offers more detailed subscription services and custom data reporting for those who need it. The American Hospital Directory will continue to play a role in supporting the public accountability.


Leslie Versweyveld

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