Public reporting and transparency: a primer on public outcomes reporting

Publication Date


Journal Title

Surg Endosc


© 2019, Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons. Introduction: Healthcare consumers seeking accurate information about where to find quality surgical care face a confusing constellation of rating systems that lack transparency or consistency of opinion. For example, a 2016 report in Health Affairs demonstrated that no hospital was rated as a high performer by all four prominent national ratings systems: Consumer Reports, Leapfrog, Healthgrades and U.S. News & World Report (Austin et al. Health Aff 34:423–430, 2015). Surgeons should have an understanding of the current state of public reporting of quality; hospital ratings and data sources; physician ratings and data sources; and transparency of reporting. Methods: We conducted a non-systematic review of the literature. Results: Hospital quality ratings remain nebulous and there is not universal opinion on the utility of voluntary participation in ranking systems, leaving the current systems largely opinion-based. Early attempts at physician ranking systems are rudimentary at best and suffer from methodological concerns. Publicly reported metrics should be easily understandable, accessible, clinically relevant, reliable, non-punitive, and shielded from legal discovery. Transparency is increasing within institutions to help align Northwell Health to institutional objectives, while specialty specific registries are helping to standardize care pathways and outcomes measures across organizations. Measuring surgical outcomes beyond 30-day morbidity and mortality has been plagued by a lack of understanding on how to create metrics that matter; the four attributes of relevance, scientific soundness, feasibility and comprehensiveness set a high bar for the development of effective and efficient quality measures in surgery. Discussion: SAGES, via the Quality, Outcomes, and Safety Committee, is committed to learning how to develop meaningful quality metrics in general surgery and will continue to work in other areas that impact quality, such as opioid prescribing, and surgeon wellness.

Volume Number


Issue Number



2043 - 2049

Document Type





School of Medicine

Primary Department






For the public and Northwell Health campuses