The Problem with Hospital Rating Systems

Nov 11, 2016

emergency room sign

How do people choose where to eat, which products to purchase and what movies to see? Usually, they seek out some type of review - whether written by critics or lay people - to make an educated decision. These reviews have a heavy influence on our purchasing decisions; they impact sales and determine the success of a business.

These are just simple, materialistic decisions that really only slightly impact our lives. What happens when the question becomes which hospital to choose? The answer: people once again look to ratings, rankings, reviews and the like. But what if these reviews didn't accurately depict the quality of a hospital?

This is reality of the current hospital rating system.

How Hospital Rating Systems Miss the Mark

The problem is more complex than hospital administrators can imagine. It stems from a deeply flawed methodology used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is compounded by the complexity of the healthcare system itself and is even further thrown into disarray by an even greater problem: how do we separate patient satisfaction from patient health? Better yet, should we?

Three Issues. One Big Problem

We've laid out quite a few issues, questions and thoughts, but they all combine into one larger question: are hospital ratings adequately and accurately rating hospitals? 

A quick look at the ratings paints a rather compelling picture.

According to a recent opinion piece in U.S. News, who dove into the CMS data regarding more than 3,600 hospitals ratings, many hospitals that are well-known for research, teaching and a huge range of care options don't even appear on the list of 102 hospitals that received five-star ratings using CMS methodologies. Nearly 90 percent of the nation's most well known hospitals are rated at three stars or lower.

The very hospitals that are setting the standards of care are being rated lower than those that are following in their footsteps.

Why is this? Because CMS methodologies essentially punish hospitals for providing them with more data. U.S. News cites an analysis by the Association of American Medical Colleges, who found that the fewer number of metrics a hospital reported on, the higher their rating was likely to be. The top hospitals, who offer vast arrays of treatment options were reporting on up to 60 measures while smaller hospitals were reporting on as few as nine. 

The problem is that a one-size-fits-all rating system is being applied to every hospital in the country.

Why Does it All Matter?

This creates two major problems in the healthcare industry:

  1. Patients rely on hospital ratings when choosing where to receive care. Based on CMS ratings, patients are being directed to smaller, sometimes less equipped hospitals.

  2. Health and Human Services (HHS) is withholding some Medicare reimbursements and redistributing them only to hospitals with high ratings and patient satisfaction scores.

These two problems are leading to hospitals not receiving funding while simultaneously losing out on patients who are choosing more "highly rated" hospitals.Until the rating system works out the issues it has, administrators, nurses and other staff members can only focus on providing the best care possible to their patients.

Better Care, Higher Patient Satisfaction

One of the most effective and easy ways to positively increase patient satisfaction is to use hospital dry erase boards when communicating with and treating patients.

You can learn more about how VividBoards offer a solution that is proven to raise HCAHPS scores and increase the level of care hospitals deliver to their patients by contacting us today.