Data Collection Methods

The Gold Standard For Hospital Trend Analysis

The Go-To Destination For Reliable And Consistent Data About The Nation’s Hospitals

The AHA Annual Survey of Hospitals profiles a universe of more than 6,200 hospitals and health care systems throughout the United States and associated areas. Also available are supplementary data on patient satisfaction, readmissions, mortality, and quality. Data is available at the hospital and system level for research and advocacy.  This data is a primary reference for government agencies (e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Census Bureau, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) and industry reports and policy papers (e.g., U.S. News & World Report, Health Affairs).

In 2008, the AHA began conducting a healthcare IT supplement survey which focuses on indicators that illustrate the depth and level of technology integration within hospitals.  This data has been used extensively by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) and the basis for a number of published articles in Health Affairs and The New England Journal of Medicine on electronic health record (EHR) adoption in hospitals. As healthcare information technology progresses, AHA datasets offer a single destination with the most reliable selection of individual hospital and system data covering HIT, EHR market share and satisfaction and telehealth trends.

Survey Methodology

The survey process is conducted to maximize accuracy and participation.

  • The only database produced with the American Hospital Association, state health care agencies, and other industry organizations.
  • State and local associations, Medicare and Medicaid centers, national organizations, and governmental bodies help identify hospitals.
  • Historically, the response rate on the AHA Annual Survey has been more than 75% each year.

The survey process validates responses.

  • When data is missing, we generate estimates from the previous year’s responses, and from comparisons to hospitals of similar size and orientation.
  • When there are unusual changes in data from one year to the next, we look for explanations in other responses or contact the hospitals directly for validation and/or clarification.
  • We aggregate responses by hospital type, size and geographic area, and compare answers to those previously reported. If there are inconsistencies with historic trends, we reexamine individual cases until either the reported data is validated or we identify a specific problem.
  • The result: The most credible hospital data available, full of valuable insights.

The survey captures key areas for healthcare analysis.

  • Hospital demographics and characteristics: facility and service-line offerings, beds, utilization, finance and staffing.
  • Organization: What groups influence control over operations: state, county or city departments; church, corporate or military bodies; primary services that distinguish the hospital and affiliates.
  • Hospital staffing: Hospitalists, intensivists, advanced practice registered nurses and more.
  • Other: Hospital leadership, strategic planning, human resources management, information management, process management, customer focus and satisfaction, and business results.

The American Hospital Association provides relevant and timely hospital data for accurate healthcare industry analysis. Each year, the survey is rigorously evaluated to ensure it collects the most pertinent indicators that reflect both historical and emerging trends, such as the formation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACO). To present the most-up-to-date hospital data for our customers, portions of the database for the most current year are updated monthly (details below). Individuals looking for a finalized database for time-series analysis should base their healthcare market research on a particular fiscal year.

  • Hospital Demographics – basic information about hospitals updated daily.
  • Hospital Database – preliminary updates to the hospital database are provided in May and August.  Data is final for the year in November with the release of the new annual survey data.
  • Updated Fields Schedule
  • Healthcare Information Technology Database – the healthcare IT database is updated once a year.
  • Hospital Compare – CMS Hospital Compare is updated quarterly or annually as applicable.
 

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