For the first time ever, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has unveiled a hospital comparison star ratings system to allow people to select a hospital and see the quality of care they provide to patients.
The new star ratings system can be accessed on Hospital Compare, the agency’s public information website. The system “builds on a larger effort across HHS [U.S. Department of Health & Human Services] to build a health care system that delivers better care, spends health care dollars more wisely, and results in healthier people,” according to a news release.
The new star rating system is based on data from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey (HCAHPS) measures used since 2006 to measure what patients think of their care. The star ratings relate to patients’ experiences at almost 3,500 Medicare-certified acute care hospitals.
HCAHPS measures topics such as how well nurses and doctors communicate with patients, how responsive hospital staff were to patient needs, how clean and quiet hospital environments were, and how well patients were prepared for post-hospital settings.
“The patient experience Star Ratings will make it easier for consumers to use the information on the Hospital Compare website and spotlight excellence in health care quality,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, acting principal deputy administrator for CMS and deputy administrator for innovation and quality. “These star ratings also encourage hospitals and clinicians to strive to continuously improve the patient experience and quality of care delivered to all patients.”
CMS said in a news release that it is committed to helping consumers make informed health care decisions. Aside from the new hospital comparison star ratings system, the Nursing Home Compare system uses star ratings to help consumers compare nursing homes and choose one based on quality metrics. Recently, CMS added star ratings to the Dialysis Facility Compare site to help to make data on dialysis centers easier to understand and use. In addition, star ratings are planned for Home Health Compare later this year.
CMS said that these rating systems continue to move the health care system toward the Affordable Care Act call for transparent and widely available public reporting. They also are a part of the Obama Administration’s Digital Government Strategy by providing content in customer-centric ways.
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