Medicare’s five-star scale is criticized for not accurately reflect quality of hospitals and that it offers too much importance to patient reviews, which are only one measurement of treatment quality. Medicare also analyzes the results of hospital care, such as how many patients died or contacted infections during their stay, but these statistics are not yet assigned stars.
“We want to expand this to other areas like clinical outcomes and safety over time, but we thought patient experience would be very understandable to consumers so we started there,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, chief medical officer for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Medicare’s new star rating, published Thursday on its Hospital Compare website, is made of 11 measurements of patient experience, like how well patients believed their pain was addressed, how well doctors and nurses communicated, and whether they would consider recommending the hospital. Hospitals gather the reviews by randomly conducting surveys on adult patients, after they leave the facility. In offering stars, Medicare can compare hospital performances against each other.
The American Hospital Association also emitted a caution to patients for taking into consideration the ranking: “There’s a risk of oversimplifying the complexity of quality care or misinterpreting what is important to a particular patient, especially since patients seek care for many different reasons.”
Nationally, Medicare assigned the top rating of five stars to 251 hospitals. It is roughly 7 percent of all the health centers Medicare took into consideration. Many from the list are small specialty hospitals that aim their operations on heart, pine or knee surgeries. They have regularly got more positive patient feedback than have general hospitals, where diverse sicknesses and busy emergency rooms make it more probable for patients to have a bad experience.
Some five-star hospitals are part of well-established systems, such as the Mayo Clinic’s chain of hospitals in Phoenix, New Prague, Minn. and Jacksonville, Fla. while Mayo’s most important hospital in Rochester, Minn., only received four stars.
Medicare offered three stars to some of the nation’s most respected hospitals, including New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. The government awarded its lowest rating of one star to 101 hospitals, or almost 3 percent of the healthcare units which were analyzed. On average, hospitals got the highest scores in Maine, South Dakota. Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin, KHN found.
Zero one-star hospitals were found in thirty-four states, while hospitals in New York, Maryland, Nevada, Florida, New Jersey, California and the District of Columbia scored lowest on average.
Image Source: Victoria Hospitals Foundation