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Preventable Hospitalization Costs and Mapping Tool

The Preventable Hospitalization Costs and Mapping Tool software program maps selected AHRQ Quality Indicators (QIs) for a State by county and estimates the potential cost savings associated with reducing potentially avoidable hospitalizations.

What Does This Tool Do?

Preventable Hospitalization Costs and Mapping Tool is a software program that maps AHRQ's Prevention Quality and Pediatric Quality indicators for a State or county and estimates the expected cost savings that could be achieved by reducing potentially avoidable hospitalizations. The tool assists health care decisionmakers in identifying communities for future interventions, such as improving preventive and primary care services or improving patient safety, and tracking the impact of such interventions over time. By overlaying residence data, the mapping tool shows where interventions can have the biggest impact for certain health plan enrollees or other target populations. The County-Level mapping tool can also be useful to employers, employer coalitions, Medicaid programs, health departments, hospitals, health systems, health plans, and researchers interested in improving health care quality in the community.

What Can This Tool Tell States About Their Performance?

This software program can help users better understand the geographical patterns of hospital admissions for certain health problems across their State. It also can help them allocate resources in an efficient and cost-effective way to address those problems and reduce hospital admission rates. This tool will:

  • Show where interventions can have the biggest impact for certain health plan enrollees or other target populations.
  • Calculate the average expected cost savings for achieving case reductions in each county.
  • Display county-level rates and cost-reduction data in a worksheet format.
  • Produce maps displaying the county-level QI rates.

Who Should Use This Tool?

This tool should be used by:

  • State health care policymakers and administrators.
  • State executive branch officials, including State health departments, Medicaid officials, and benefit managers for State employees.
  • Hospitals and health systems.
  • Nongovernmental State and local health care leaders, including employers, employer coalitions, and health plans.
  • State data organizations and researchers interested in population-based quality measures.

What Types Of Questions Does This Tool Address?

This tool can be used to address questions such as:

  1. Which counties have the highest rates of admissions for short-term complications for diabetes that could have been avoided through improved outpatient services?
  2. Which counties have the highest rates of infections due to medical care in their hospitals?
  3. Which counties consistently have poorer indicators of quality or consistently better indicators of quality?
  4. In which counties would there be the largest potential payoff for reducing avoidable admissions?
  5. Which counties have the highest density of the target population?

What Data Sources Are Used?

The tool processes a single-year data set of hospital discharge records (provided by the user) against the Version 3.1 Prevention Quality Indicators (PQIs) and area-level Pediatric Quality Indicators (PDIs) developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. More information on the PQIs and PDIs is available at:

What Are Stakeholders Saying?

"The beauty of the AHRQ tool is that it reinforced what we were seeing in our internal reviews as areas to focus on. Working with a national resource with the credibility of AHRQ allows us to put this new, validated and adjusted data in front of our community healthcare stakeholders. Although we were considering phasing out some of our efforts, the data reinforced and highlighted for us that we in fact needed to stay the course." Tom Smith, Regional Manager, Flint Michigan Community Health Care Initiatives, General Motors Corporation.

How Can I Obtain The Tool?

This tool been incorporated into the MONAHRQ site (My Own Network, Powered by AHRQ) at:

Page last reviewed May 2009
Internet Citation: Preventable Hospitalization Costs and Mapping Tool. May 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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