Databases Used for Hospital Quality Measures

Hospital data are available from a myriad of sources, including individual hospitals and hospital associations, State and regional data organizations, health planning or health data organizations at the state level, departments of health, and Federal agencies. Many hospital quality measures are created using hospital administrative discharge data. These data sets provide information on:

  • Patient demographics.
  • Diagnoses.
  • Procedures.
  • Admission source.
  • Discharge status.
  • Length of stay.
  • Charges.

Despite certain limitations (lack of clinical detail, coding variations, time lags), quality experts regard administrative data as a reliable and usable source for the purpose of assessing hospital quality.

To calculate hospital-specific results and benchmarks, you can access two hospital quality databases: Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) and Medicare Provider Analysis and Review (MEDPAR).

Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP)

HCUP is a family of health care databases and tools sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). HCUP databases, which contain data elements from inpatient and outpatient discharge records, bring together the data collection efforts of State data organizations, hospital associations, private data organizations, and the Federal Government to create a national information resource of patient-level health care data. HCUP includes the largest collection of longitudinal hospital care data in the United States, with all-payer, encounter-level information beginning in 1988. HCUPnet, an on-line interactive query tool, allows access to data without purchase (

Medicare Provider Analysis and Review (MEDPAR)

This data file, available from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), contains records on all Medicare beneficiaries who use hospital inpatient services. MEDPAR contains data from claims for services provided to beneficiaries admitted to Medicare-certified inpatient hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, which are identified in the database. Report card sponsors can use these data to calculate measures relating to hospital quality, conditions, and procedures. MEDPAR data sets constitute primarily an older section of the population, which tends to consume health care services more often than the population as a whole.

Learn more at:

Also in "Measures of Hospital Quality"

Page last reviewed June 2016
Page originally created February 2015
Internet Citation: Databases Used for Hospital Quality Measures. Content last reviewed June 2016. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
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