This fall Illinois will start publishing data about hospitals' performance on a public Web site, according to officials from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The data will include rates of hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA, the ratio of nurses to patients, and information about the cost and volume of 30 leading procedures performed by hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers.
Laws calling for the reports, passed in 2004, were groundbreaking at the time. But several states moved far faster to put information about hospitals in the public domain, while the process in Illinois dragged on.
Health officials blamed the need to amend legislation, a burdensome rulemaking process and, more recently, a "somewhat chaotic" state of affairs in the governor's office, as one official put it.
Outside experts faulted the department for being inefficient and suffering from bureaucratic inertia.
Now things seem to be on track. The department has the data in hand and has hired IPRO of Lake Success, N.Y., to analyze it and set up a Web site to debut in October. Illinois' site will be similar to one in New York, said Mary Driscoll, chief of the Illinois health department's division of patient safety and quality.
Illinois' site will report about MRSA and Clostridium difficile infections acquired in hospitals.
It's not clear yet whether the October reports will present aggregate data or data for individual medical centers, said David Carvalho, deputy director of the health department's office of policy and planning.
But the ultimate intent is to report the infection data for each hospital across the state, he said.
-- Judith Graham