The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) recently introduced a five-star hospital rating system, allowing consumers to choose a hospital based on their quality of care. The new feature was unveiled on Hospital Compare, CMS' public information website and is part of a broader effort by the Department of Health and Human Services to improve the health care system.
According to the CMS, hospital ratings are based on data provided by the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey (HCAHPS). The survey measures patient care experiences from nearly 3,500 Medicare-certified acute care hospitals. Metrics such as patient-clinician communication, hospital cleanliness, staff responsiveness and patient readiness for post-hospital settings are included in the study. CMS intends to update HCAHPS Star Ratings on a quarterly basis.
Based on a report by Kaiser Health News, only 251 hospitals (7 percent) ranked under the new system received a five-star rating. The lion's share (40 percent) of hospitals received three stars, including highly regarded institutions such as LA's Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan and Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital. At the same time, only 3 percent of hospitals listed were given one star.
Many in the hospital industry are afraid that CMS' five-star scale does not accurately reflect the quality of hospital care, claiming that patient reviews are just one of the measurements of hospital quality. In fact, the American Hospital Association (AHA) has been critical of CMS' plan to introduce star ratings, arguing that the rankings fail to take into account "a range of socioeconomic factors beyond hospitals' control." Other hospital officials are skeptical whether the difference in stars is significant.
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