AHRQ Views

Blog posts from AHRQ leaders

As part of AHRQ's mission to help the public understand and use health care data, I'm excited to announce the launch of a new Web tool that allows analysis of the latest State-by-State information on hospital discharges.

The tool is called Fast Stats. It draws on our Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), the Nation's most comprehensive source of hospital discharge data. Fast Stats provides immediate access to these data, slicing the discharge information in two compelling ways: by payer (Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, and the uninsured) and by condition categories (surgical, mental health, injury, medical, and maternal).

Fast Stats currently includes hospital discharge data from 41 States, including 17 that have provided information on discharges for part or all of 2014. For States that already provided 2014 data, users can access Fast Stats to analyze changes in hospital use and payment sources following the Medicaid and Marketplace coverage expansions under the Affordable Care Act.

Fast Stats shows, for example, that in Colorado, a Medicaid expansion state, there was a 50 percent increase in Medicaid-covered hospital stays during the first 9 months of 2014. During the same time period, hospital stays for the uninsured declined 90 percent. In contrast, Missouri, which did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, experienced no significant changes in hospital stays for Medicaid or uninsured patients.

In addition to categorizing stays by broad condition categories, Fast Stats provides hospital stay information about three specific medical conditions for which hospitalizations may be preventable with access to good quality outpatient care—diabetes, asthma, and congestive heart failure. Fast Stats will add information about hospital stays for other conditions and topics in the coming months. We will also offer data on emergency services in the future. Statistics will be updated regularly as the newest data become available.

Is such information useful? Without a doubt. First, this is fresh data with exciting potential for health care researchers and policymakers. Second, these data are relevant as we measure the impact of the rapidly changing health insurance coverage landscape. Regardless of your opinion about the Affordable Care Act, it's important to know how it's working. Fast Stats offers information to analyze the effects of Medicaid expansion and the early implementation of the Affordable Care Act on hospital utilization and payment sources.

Fast Stats is another way that AHRQ is building on the value of HCUP—a family of Agency health care databases that brings together the data collection efforts of State data organizations, hospital associations, private data organizations, and the Federal Government. It includes the largest collection of data on hospital care in the United States, with information about payment and specific services going back to 1988. HCUP currently contains information on over 95 percent of all inpatient hospitalizations and approximately 65 percent of emergency department visits.

If you'd like more information on HCUP, please visit the HCUP Web site. And for an early look at how hospital care is changing with the Affordable Care Act, please visit the Fast Stats page to check out our new Fast Stats resource.

Richard Kronick, Ph.D., is Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Page last reviewed August 2015
Page originally created July 2015
Internet Citation: A New Tool to Analyze Hospital Discharge Data. Content last reviewed August 2015. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/blog/ahrqviews/072315.html