Improving the mortality index by capturing patient acuity through interprofessional real-time documentation improvement in a single hospital system

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The observed to expected mortality ratio is a standardized way for reporting inpatient mortality and is used as a measure for hospital quality rankings and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services value-based payments. The goal of this study is to describe a single institution's mortality index improvement initiative through improved documentation of patient severity.


Data were prospectively collected October 2016 through May 2017 on patients discharged from the acute care surgery, open heart surgery, neurosurgery, and University Hospital East. Mortalities were reviewed by a multidisciplinary committee for missed coding opportunities. These captured codes were adjusted based on the Vizient risk-adjustment model for mortality and the observed to expected mortality ratio was calculated.


Every service reviewed showed improvement in the expected mortality rate. Additional coding opportunities were present in 55.6% of acute care surgery, 24.3% of neurosurgery, 18.3% of open heart surgery, and 35.3% of University Hospital East cases. A total of 70 codes were improved during the 8-month period. The acute care surgery service showed the most improvement, with a 0.45 improvement in the observed to expected mortality ratio, followed by neurosurgery, with 0.43 improvement.


Institutional observed to expected mortality ratio can be improved by targeting high-acuity services and capturing coding opportunities, leading to improvement in value-based payments and rankings.

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