Bruce Landon, MD, MBA, associate professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School (HMS), and colleagues found that overall, not-for-profit hospitals consistently performed better than for-profit hospitals when it came to delivering high-quality care for three common medical conditions: congestive heart failure (CHF); heart attack (acute myocardial infarction, AMI); and pneumonia. Hospitals with higher registered nurse staffing levels, more advanced technology, and federal or military designation all had high performance.

“Our study is the first to comprehensively examine the characteristics of hospitals that are associated with higher quality of care for these three important medical conditions,” said Landon. This study assessed the quality of care for CHF, AMI, and pneumonia in more than 4,000 hospitals in the U.S. The study also examined what hospital characteristics (such as ownership, size, location, teaching status, and proportion of Medicare or Medicaid admissions) were associated with high-quality performance.

Not-for-profit hospitals consistently performed better than for-profit hospitals for each condition, and federal and military hospitals had the highest performance. “Because a large portion of federal and military hospitals are part of the Veterans Health Administration, this suggests that lessons learned from their decade-long experience in quality improvement deserves further study,” said Landon. “It seems likely that the information technology and computerized reporting systems contributed to their high performance.”

Hospitals that served greater proportions of Medicaid patients had low quality of care across all conditions studied. Hospitals in the Midwest and Northeast, not in rural areas, had better performance, as did hospitals with more advanced technology available.; Source: Harvard Medical School