VOLUME 15 NUMBER 1
SPRING 2014

American Hospital Association's Annual Survey Database

With the Affordable Care Act frequently in the news, research on health care trends is an important contribution to the national conversation and policy decision-making. Acquisition of data, both current and historical, is critical to researchers' ability to analyze trends and patterns in the healthcare industry. A collection of key relevant data provided by BC Libraries is the American Hospital Association's Annual Survey Database, first added to the library's Data/GIS/Statistics Collection in 2010.

The AHA Annual Survey Database includes more than 1000 data fields on 6,500 hospitals. This allows tracking of trends in hospital demographics, organizational structure, facilities and services, utilization data, community orientation indicators, expenses, and staffing. This data is useful for healthcare research, social services providers, economics, business, and communications.

Using this database, you can:

  • Extract structure and organizational information to compare and benchmark selected hospitals.
  • Identify which services are delivered by a hospital or through another organization in the area.
  • Evaluate opportunities for new service lines.
  • Run time series analyses and develop forecasts with historical data sets since 1980.
  • Merge with data from other sources for customized statistics and research.
  • Study a hospital's self-assessment of its community benefits.
  • Analyze utilization information, staffing, expenses and other characteristics.
  • Correlate geographic indicators (zip codes, state, region, CBSA, county).
  • Access strategic plans, including quality improvement goals for diverse patient populations.

To date, O'Neill Library has subscribed to the 1989, 1993, 2000, and 2009-2012 collections of data. This facilitates longitudinal studies of hospital data. The data has been utilized in manuscripts by Faculty Researchers in the Connell School of Nursing (CSON) and has supported research by Faculty and Graduate Students in the Department of Economics and the Carroll School of Management.

In an advance online publication, CSON Professors Kelly Stamp, Kate Flanagan and Judith Shindul-Rothschild, with Research Services Matt Gregas, conducted research on over 500 hospitals in California, Massachusetts, and New York and found that 6 factors predicted 27.6% of readmissions for patients with heart failure (HF). HF readmissions increased with higher admissions per bed, teaching hospitals, and poor nurse-patient communication. Conversely, the HF readmissions were lower when nurse staffing was greater, more patients reported receiving discharge information, and among hospitals in California. The implications for nursing practice in the delivery of care to patients with HF were discussed:

Stamp, K., Flanagan, J., Gregas, M. & Shindul-Rothschild, J. (2013). Predictors of Excess Heart Failure Readmissions: Implications for Nursing Practice. Journal of Nursing Care Quality.

Another study using the AHA dataset by CSON Professor Shindul-Rothschild and Matt Gregas used a linear mixed effect (LME) model to examine trends in patient turnover and nurse employment in Massachusetts, New York and California non-federal hospitals from 2000 to 2011. LME analysis found that the rate of increase in hospital admissions was significantly higher in Massachusetts hospitals (p < 0.001) than California and New York (p = 0.007). The rate of change in RN FTE HPPD was significantly less (p = 0.02) in Massachusetts than California and was not different from zero. The rate of change in admissions to RN FTE HPPD was significantly greater in Massachusetts than California (p = 0.001) and New York (p < 0.01). Nurse staffing remained flat in Massachusetts despite a significant increase in hospital admissions. The implications of the findings for nurse employment and hospital utilization following the implementation of national health insurance reform are discussed in a paper resubmitted for review.

Professor Shindul-Rothschild merged the AHA data with wage rate data from the Massachusetts Nurses Association and the Massachusetts Hospital Association on nurse staffing in testimony to the Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley on Cost Drivers in Massachusetts hospitals.

Additional studies underway by Professor Shindul-Rothschild include a longitudinal analysis of RN-patient ratios from all Massachusetts hospital units from 2008 to 2012 as well as factors associated with AMI, Heart Failure and Pneumonia readmissions.

Faculty in Economics and Marketing have been using the data for research in Medicare and Medicaid utilization in nursing homes, as well as other aspects of the health industry.

Members of the Boston College Community are encouraged to utilize this important source of data both for research and for teaching.

Access is restricted to the Boston College Community. Please inquire about terms of access from the Nursing Librarian Wanda Anderson, Barbara Mento Data/GIS Librarian, or your Subject Bibliographer.

Wanda Anderson
Nursing Librarian

Barbara Mento
Data Librarian