Patients/Consumers - can use this report as an aid in making decisions about where to seek treatment for the categories detailed in this report. As with any health care decision, PHC4 urges the reader to use this report in conjunction with a physician or other health care provider when making a health care decision.

Group Benefits Purchasers/Insurers - can use this report as part of a process in determining where employees, subscribers, members, or participants should go for their health care.

Health Care Providers - can use this report as an aid in identifying opportunities for quality improvement and cost containment.

Policy Makers/Public Officials - can use this report to enhance their understanding of health care issues, to ask provocative questions, to raise public awareness of important issues and to help constituents identify quality health care options.

All of the previously mentioned groups can use this information to raise important questions about why differences in the quality and efficiency of care exist.

This report can be used as a tool. The report should not be used to generalize about the overall quality of care at a hospital, but instead to examine hospital performance in specific treatment categories. This report does point out differences. The statistical methods used eliminate many of the clinical and medical differences among the patients in different hospitals thereby allowing us to explore the real differences in mortality and the length of hospitalization among hospitals. The pursuit of these issues can play an important and constructive role in raising the quality while restraining the cost of health care in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.