By Max Friedman
Medicare released the new Hospital Compare system, a five-star rating system for hospital quality reports. Kaiser Health News and NPR report that the federal government awarded the first star ratings based on patient surveys.
Connecticut ranked near the bottom of all states, with an average hospital rating of 2.9 stars. 63% of our hospitals received three stars, while 22% were rated with two stars, and 15% receiving four. No Connecticut hospitals received one or five stars.
Maine was the top ranking state, with an average score of 4.1, and 85% of its hospitals receiving four or five stars.
You can compare hospitals yourself at Medicare’s Hospital Compare site.
We’ve written about grading systems like this, including the Hospital Safety Scores published by the Leapfrog Group. It’s important to remember that these reports are evaluating different measures of quality and care, and must be looked at together to see the larger picture.
While Leapfrog focuses on process and outcome measures focused solely on patient safety, the Medicare survey is based on 11 facets of the patient experience, such as how well doctors and nurses communicated, whether they would recommend the hospital to others, and how well patients believed their pain was addressed.
This can be seen by comparing the Medicare and Leapfrog ratings for Connecticut hospitals:
- Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport received an A grade on the Hospital Safety Score report last Fall, but only received two stars from Medicare.
- All of the hospitals receiving 4 stars from Medicare: Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam, Milford Hospital, Greenwich Hospital, and Middlesex Hospital in Middletown received C’s on the Hospital Safety Score report.
The chief medical officer for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) stated that CMS wants to expand this system to other areas such as clinical outcomes and safety, but thought that patient experience would be more accessible to consumers and therefore a good place to start.
As the move towards health care payment reform and transparency continues, consumers will see more ratings like the Hospital Compare system. It is important to be wary of any one rating, and really dig deep on what each one is measuring and balance that against your own personal needs.