Attention to detail can make kids' hospital stays shorter, less costly & less frequent

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- A new study shows that sick children can go home from the hospital more quickly, less expensively and with less chance of a repeat visit if children's hospitals use a unique source of national data to check their performance against other children's hospitals and show them where they can improve.

The data, from the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions, are specially adjusted to reflect the severity, or acuity, of children's illnesses. The study on their use, performed at the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, will be published in the October issue of the journal Pediatrics.

The new study is based on data from children who had asthma attacks that required hospitalization. But the authors say their approach could be used to evaluate and improve care of any kind at any children's hospital. If more hospitals paid this kind of attention to detailed data and acted on the results, they could provide higher-quality, more efficient and less costly care to many more children, the researchers say.

The new study shows that the U-M team reduced the length and cost growth of asthmatic children's hospital stays, and their readmission rates, by using child-specific national data to check Mott's performance and look for opportunities to improve the delivery of asthma care in the hospital.

The team used data from the NACHRI Case Mix Comparative Database, which contains information on patients treated at NACHRI member hospitals and adjusts the patients' medical codes by severity of illness and co-existing conditions. This better reflects the nature of children's health problems and the mix of patients, or "case mix" at children's hospitals.

The adjusted medical codes and database allow a children's hospital to make an "apples to apples" comparison of itself against the average performance of all other hospitals. Such comparisons can be made for specific condi

Contact: Kara Gavin
University of Michigan Health System

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