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Sound Health is a recurring series that airs twice each month on WGLT's Sound Ideas program.Support for Sound Health comes from Carle Health, bringing care, coverage, support, healthcare research and education to central Illinois and beyond.

Revamped Illinois Hospital Report Card website connects transparency with quality of care

Screenshot of the new IL Hospital Report Card
Illinois Hospital Report Card
The Illinois Public Health Community Map provides county-by-county information about the quality of health in Illinois communities. The map also highlights socioeconomic and racial or ethnic disparities that may exist.

The public now has an easier way to check and compare the quality of hospitals in Illinois. 

The Illinois Department of Public Health this month launched a revamped version of its Illinois Hospital Report Card and Community Map data website. The user-friendly Report Card tracks hospitals across 150 data points, including survey-based patient satisfaction, staffing and beds, readmission rates, maternal health and births, and more. The Community Map gives a county-level view, detailing the prevalence of conditions like asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and behavioral health disorders. 

The project suggests a connection between transparency, quality of care and patient outcomes. 

Chinyere Alu
Chinyere Alu is the Illinois Department of Public Health's division chief for patient safety and quality.

“That’s one of the strategies that’s been shown to help spur improvements by facilities,” said Chinyere Alu, IDPH’s division chief for patient safety and quality. “It may not necessarily be driven by patient demand. But just by even facilities really being able to compare their performance with each other and use that information to prioritize their areas of focus.” 

In McLean County, you can check and compare the quality of Carle BroMenn Medical Center and OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center in myriad ways, plus surgery centers.

The data includes a hospital’s median charges for common procedures, though Alu cautions there’s a difference between what’s charged and what the final cost will be to a patient. 

“It’s not necessarily what the patient will end up paying, when you consider factors like insurance and discounts. But it does give patients a sense of which hospitals a particular service might be more or less expensive. I think this would be of particular interest to those patients who are paying out of pocket,” Alu said. 

The data are self-reported by the hospitals to an IDPH vendor. There are safeguards built in to quality-check the data before it reaches the website, Alu said. Hospitals have opportunities to correct their data before it makes it to IDPH. Then IDPH does its own quality-assurance process, which culminates in a 30-day hospital preview period that’s mandated by law, Alu said. 

“We don’t publish any data on the Hospital Report Card until we’ve resolved those discrepancies,” Alu said. 

Also in this revamped version, users can now download historical data, enabling them to analyze trends in healthcare delivery. Data can be downloaded for specific metrics, or by county. 

Alu said the Community Map would be especially useful to researchers, local health departments and policymakers. 

The Peoria-based advertising agency AdCo worked on the new Report Card website.

“The enhanced website is significantly faster and has other unique features that improve its usability, functionality, and accessibility for consumers,” Ryan Black, principal software engineer at AdCo, said in a statement. “From a development standpoint, this was a massive project requiring over 1,000 hours of development time.”

Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.