Pennsylvania's hospitals are frequently above-average when compared to national benchmarks of health care quality and are often making improvements at a faster rate than the rest of the country, according to the "state of the state" analysis that the Pennsylvania Health Care Quality Alliance (PHCQA) recently conducted based on data collected by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Joint Commission.

A statement released by the alliance said the PHCQA reviewed data from July 2008 to June 2009 across four major clinical areas: heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, and the prevention of surgical infections. The alliance also looked at data collected by CMS on 10 criteria to measure patients' assessments of their experiences of hospital care. PHCQA aggregates these measures, along with others, on its free public website, www.pahealthcarequality.org, where patients and consumers can check local hospital quality performance.

Alliance members include The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), which represents more than 225 hospitals and health systems across the state; the Delaware Valley Healthcare Council of HAP; the Hospital Council of Western Pennsylvania; the state's four Blue plans (Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Capital BlueCross, Highmark Inc., and Independence Blue Cross); the Pennsylvania Medical Society; and representatives from the Governor's Office of Health Care Reform.