The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) updated hospital performance data on the Hospital Compare website and on data.medicare.gov to empower patients, families, and stakeholders with important information they need to compare hospitals and make informed healthcare decisions. This data includes specific measures of hospitals’ quality of care, many of which are updated quarterly, and the Overall Hospital Star Ratings, which were last updated in December 2017. The data are collected through CMS’s Hospital Quality Initiative programs.
The Star Ratings drive systematic improvements in care and safety as hospitals strive to achieve and maintain high ratings. In order to harness competition to lower costs and improve quality, patients need meaningful, actionable information. Consumers and patients point to Hospital Compare and the Star Ratings as important resources and rely on the latest data. Many hospitals rely on these ratings to identify areas for improvement.
CMS also posted potential changes to the Hospital Star Ratings for public comment. These changes under consideration, intended to respond to stakeholder feedback, seek to enhance the Star Ratings methodology by making hospital comparisons more precise and consistent, and by allowing more direct, “like-to-like” comparisons. One potential change, recommended by some hospitals, would place hospitals with similar characteristics into “peer groups” allowing, for example, small hospitals to be compared to other small hospitals instead of all hospitals. CMS developed these potential changes with feedback from hospitals and other stakeholders through a series of listening sessions and by considering input from a technical expert panel. The agency looks forward to public comments on the potential changes, due March 29, 2019.
First available in 2005 and closely aligned with CMS’s recently launched eMedicare initiative to unlock the power of information for consumers, Hospital Compare provides access to quality measures on more than 4,000 Medicare-certified hospitals as well as Veterans Health Administration and Military Health System hospitals. Easy-to-understand and based on more than 100 rigorously tested measures, Hospital Compare is the go-to resource for anyone deciding where to schedule a surgery or other inpatient or outpatient service. Users can compare hospitals based on patient experience, the timeliness and effectiveness of care, complication rates, and other factors. Information is also organized by medical condition, such as heart attack, pneumonia, or type of surgery. Before each update of Hospital Compare, hospitals can preview their data, including their Star Rating, for 30 days before updates are published.