Just last week Medicare published Star Ratings for all hospitals in the United States. The ratings are designed to assist consumers in identifying where they want to access care. The rating system is similar to that used by the hotel industry in that the higher number of stars the higher the perception of service. For hospitals there are a total of 5 stars and GVMH received a 4 out of 5 star rating which puts us in very select company with the likes of Johns Hopkins and a few other well-known hospitals.
According to Medicare, the HCAHPS star ratings enable consumers to more quickly and easily assess the patient experience of care information that is provided on the Hospital Compare Web site, with more stars indicating better quality care.
To calculate the HCAHPS star ratings, HCAHPS Survey information from one hospital is compared to that from others. More stars indicate better quality care than fewer stars. The stars are one way of comparing hospitals. HCAHPS star ratings, like the HCAHPS measures on which they are based, are updated quarterly.
Medicare’s new summary star rating, posted Thursday on its Hospital Compare website, is based on 11 facets of patient experience, including how well doctors and nurses communicated, how well patients believed their pain was addressed, and whether they would recommend the hospital to others. Hospitals collect the reviews by randomly surveying adult patients — not just those on Medicare — after they leave the facility.
In assigning stars, Medicare compared hospital against each other, essentially grading on a curve. It noted on its Hospital Compare website that “a 1-star rating does not mean that you will receive poor care from a hospital” and that “we suggest that you use the star rating along with other quality information when making decisions about choosing a hospital.”
We know we provide great care at GVMH and the star ratings help to validate the great work we do because we can see how we compare to other hospitals. I can see value in the star rating system because it’s easy for the public to understand.
I would hope that as the ratings gain traction the process will change to include outcomes data as well as patient perception data. The patient’s perception of care is important because to some extent perception is reality but patients may perceive they are receiving great care when in fact the actual medical care is not as good as it could be. GVMH is committed to quality and we compare very favorably to national benchmarks relative to patient outcomes. Perception is important but so is reality. I’m pleased with GVMH’s rating but I’d like to see the ratings also include patient outcomes because outcomes are as important as perception.