Hospital Ratings Site: A ‘Good First Step’ or ‘Unsalvageable?’

A government website that provides patients with information about hospital quality is getting praise for promoting transparency but little else.

Hospital Compare, launched by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in 2016, is aimed at encouraging facilities to improve their quality of care and enabling prospective patients to choose the facility that is best for them. The agency said it intends to update the site twice a year, and in December, it started displaying overall hospital star ratings and data on quality measures for 3,692 Medicare hospitals. The ratings range from one to five stars, with five being the best.

Opinions of the site among hospital groups and lawyers range from “a good first step” to “unsalvageable.”

Alex Brill, a policy adviser at Hooper, Lundy & Bookman’s Washington office, told me the site is a “useful first step in an effort by the government to improve transparency and provide patients with comparative data on the hospital they may attend.”

Hospital industry groups, however, say the site is not useful to patients, who typically don’t shop around for hospitals the way they do for hospice and nursing home care.

“We don’t have any evidence that Hospital Compare is being used consistently by patients,” Janis Orlowski, chief health-care officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges, told me. “The information provided is not good or helpful to the public and may mislead people.”

Read my full article here.

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