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NEW STUDY SUGGESTS RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HOSPITAL PATIENT CARE QUALITY AND FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE

 OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill., April 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Hospitals that provide quality health care tend to be in good financial condition according to a jointly prepared report released by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and HCIA, a health care information company.
 According to the study, "Comparing Quality and Financial Performance in Accredited Hospitals," low hospital profitability was significantly related to noncompliance with Joint Commission standards in 27 of 50 standards categories. Standards categories address specific performance areas such as credentialing and privileging physicians, safety management, quality assessment and improvement, nursing care and staffing and infection control.
 The study matched compliance with accreditation standards against financial, operating and demographic data from 4,095 acute care hospitals accredited during the three-year period of 1988-1990 and included in both the HCIA and the Joint Commission databases.
 "For the first time, two very different health care databases have been brought together to determine whether hospitals in good financial condition exhibit a higher degree of compliance with Joint Commission standards than hospitals in poorer financial condition," said Dennis S. O'Leary, M.D., Joint Commission president.
 "This is the first large-scale study to compare Joint Commission quality standards compliance to financial indicators that HCIA uses to measure the financial, operating and demographic profile of hospitals," said George Pillari, HCIA president. "This study tends to support a long-held assumption that hospital quality and financial status are linked."
 For purposes of study, Joint Commission standards were used as the measure of quality health care while HCIA data were used to evaluate financial performance. The project studied the correlation between 10 HCIA financial parameters and 50 Joint Commission performance areas.
 "As the health care reform debate grows, it is increasingly important to have concrete data that address hospitals' ability to provide cost-effective, quality health care," said O'Leary. "Data from this report should be considered by policymakers in formulating the design of new health care delivery approaches."
 Hospitals that scored well on both the correlation of quality and financial performance tended to be large and located in metropolitan areas.
 Among the study's other findings:
 -- Being rated by HCIA as a financially distressed hospital was significantly related to noncompliance in 22 of 50 standards categories.
 -- Lower debt service coverage was significantly related to noncompliance in 23 of 50 standard categories. Debt service coverage is an organization's ability to repay debt or receive credit.
 -- Having fewer Medicare patients whose lengths of stay and/or costs exceeded national norms was associated with lower/poorer compliance in 33 of 50 standards categories.
 The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, a private, not-for-profit organization, evaluates and accredits more than 5,200 hospitals and more than 3,000 other health care organizations that provide home care, mental health care, ambulatory care, and long term care services. Founded in 1951, the Joint Commission is the nation's oldest and largest health care standards-setting and accrediting body.
 HCIA Inc., based in Baltimore, Md., is a leading health care information company. HCIA provides the hospital, payor, and health care supplier markets with information products and analytical services. HCIA is a subsidiary of AMBAC, Inc., (NYSE: ABK), which is also the parent company of AMBAC Indemnity Corp., a financial guarantee insurance company.
 -0- 4/20/93
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: For a list of the Joint Commission and HCIA performance areas compared as well as a summary of the findings, contact Stephen L. Davidow, media relations manager, Joint Commission, 708-916-5635/
 /CONTACT: Stephen L. Davidow, media relations manager of Joint Commission, 708-916-5635; or Lisa Bradshaw, marketing manager of HCIA, 410-576-9600/
 (ABK)


CO: HCIA; AMBAC, Inc. ST: Illinois IN: HEA SU: ECO

WB -- NY064 -- 8055 04/20/93 12:08 EDT
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Date:Apr 20, 1993
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