Policy Research

Do Small Hospitals Waste Time and Money Reporting Unused Quality Data to the Government?


All hospitals are required to report certain quality of health care results to the U.S. government. Some of these health care quality results are published on the Hospital Compare website to assist the public to decide which hospital to use for health care.

However, some hospitals, especially rural hospitals, which tend to be small, don’t generate enough results to satisfy the minimum requirements to have their results appear on Hospital Compare.

Thus, policy makers are concerned that small rural hospitals might waste time and money to gather results that won’t appear on Hospital Compare.


Do rural hospitals have a lower probability of their results appearing on the website compared to non-rural hospitals?

Data from 15 rural and 1 non-rural hospitals are predicted to not appear on Hospital Compare.


Out of 74 hospitals studied (30 rural and 44 non-rural), 16 hospitals with fewer than 60 beds are predicted to not have their results appear on the Hospital Compare website.  Fifteen of these hospitals were rural hospitals.

At a probability of results appearing on  Hospital Compare = 50%, the “results don’t appear” hospitals were separated with 85% accuracy from the “results will appear” hospitals.


At least for this specific health care quality result, hospitals that are located in rural areas and have few beds probably will gather results that will not appear on Hospital Compare.  Very small hospitals located in non-rural areas might also fall into this category.


Changes to policy to exempt these small rural (and some urban) hospitals from reporting certain health care quality results to the U.S. government might result in time and cost savings. In the current health care environment, increasing efficiency is especially important for small, rural hospitals that are not critical-access hospitals. These small, rural hospitals need to find and apply every available cost saving simply to stay in business and to be able to serve patients who otherwise wouldn’t have access to health care.

This analysis didn’t quantitate the magnitude of savings that exempted hospitals might achieve from these exemptions.

Exemptions from gathering results might need to be granted separately for different health care quality results.  This analysis used only one health care quality result and the probability of a different result for a given hospital not appearing on Hospital Compare is likely to be different.