Every day, consumers make choices about which hospitals they or their families will use – and too often, they make those decisions without enough information to guide them. Because they are unsure about where to go for trustworthy information on hospital quality, many make choices based only on a hospital’s general reputation, the experiences of friends or where a physician has admitting privileges.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is aiming to change that by giving consumers information on hospital quality performance that is easier to use, so patients and families can make informed choices about their hospital care. Its new Hospital Star Ratings program will allow consumers to more easily access information about how a hospital performs on important benchmarks. Consumers will be able to see a summary score and overall grade for each hospital, which is based on more than 60 performance measures. The Hospital Star Ratings emphasize the kinds of measures that are of greatest interest to consumers: outcome measures addressing mortality, readmissions and safety, and patient experience measures. These measures were selected through a vigorous process that included input from diverse health care stakeholders – including consumers.
Once CMS makes these star ratings public, consumers who want more details on how a hospital performs on specific measures will be able to look beyond the hospital’s summary score to the individual measures from which the overall score was derived.
The National Partnership for Women & Families represents women across the country who are the health care decision-makers for themselves and their families. Like other consumer groups, we are urging CMS to post the Hospital Star Ratings on its Hospital Compare website this month, so consumers can begin to benefit from this valuable information.
When it is implemented, the Hospital Star Ratings program will help give consumers more meaningful information to guide their decisions about which hospitals to use. It’s the kind of comparative information consumers are accustomed to using when they make other important decisions or purchases.
We believe great thought and care went into development of the Hospital Star Ratings Program. If needed, the program can be adjusted over time. But now is the time to move forward and give consumers a tool that will allow them to assess which hospitals do the best job of providing the care they need.
The Hospital Star Ratings are a significant step forward in helping consumers make value-based decisions about their health care. Its implementation should not be delayed any further. Patients and families are counting on this program to help them make informed decisions about their health care.