South Carolina health care data website launched

SCDHHS launches website as a response to health care transparency passed by SC General Assembly.

The SC Department of Health and Human Services (SCDHHS) launched SCHealthData.org yesterday during an afternoon news conference. The website is a response to the health care transparency requirements of Proviso 33.34 passed last year by the South Carolina General Assembly.
   
The new tool allows users to compare key measures of financial performance for hospitals across South Carolina and identify trends in hospital performance. Similar information on hospital financial performance was released last spring.

"As the new web site clearly demonstrates, hospital profits vary from year to year. Over time, of course, every hospital must have a positive bottom line if it's going to reinvest in jobs and health care services while caring for everyone, regardless of their ability to pay," said South Carolina Hospital Association President and CEO Thornton Kirby. "Profitability is an important measure of each hospital's financial health."

SCHA is collaborating with SCDHHS in its efforts to increase price transparency in South Carolina. According to SCDHHS Director Tony Keck, the agency plans to add price and charge data by hospitals. At first, the data will include charges and payments from Medicaid, Medicare and the state employee health insurance plan. However, he expects to add other providers and payers in the future.

"Our state's hospital leaders believe that South Carolinians should have the information they need to understand the health care system and to make better decisions concerning their own health care," Kirbry said. "That is why we are working with the Department of Health and Human Services to make  information available. However, hospital costs make up only about one-third of total health care costs.  Therefore, tracking similar cost data on other segments of the health care industry in South Carolina would provide a more complete understanding."

In addition to showing visualizations and statistical comparisons between hospitals based on federal cost report data submitted to SCDHHS, the website provides several other hospital data resources. Those resources include Community Health Needs Assessments, which all charitable hospitals are now required to produce under the federal Affordable Care Act. SCHealthData.org also features links to other health care transparency resources from South Carolina and across the country.