CMS on Monday unveiled overall hospital quality ratings on its Hospital Compare website for 3,629 hospitals—and just 83 received five stars.
Hospital groups have been critical of the ratings. American Hospital Association (AHA) President Richard Pollack in July said AHA was "disappointed" that CMS decided to release the ratings, warning that the methodology was over-simplified and could "unfairly penaliz[e] teaching hospitals and those serving higher numbers of the poor."
Screenshot of overall hospital star rating
The July and October ratings both were based on hospital-reported data on 64 quality measures from seven categories: mortality, safety of care, readmissions, patient experience, effectiveness of care, timeliness of care, and efficient use of medical imaging.
In the latest update, CMS based the ratings on 57 quality measures across the same seven categories. Only hospitals that reported at least three measures within at least three categories, including one outcome group, were eligible for an overall rating.
The agency then used a clustering algorithm to assign hospitals a star rating on a one-to-five scale. Patients can see the ratings when they search for hospitals on Medicare's Hospital Compare website.
When users scroll over the information symbol near the overall rating, they see a disclaimer that states the rating is based on "common conditions that hospitals treat" and may not reflect hospital performance on more complex conditions. The disclaimer advises patients to "discuss the results of the overall ratings with [their] physician or health care provider to determine the right hospital for [their] care."
According to CMS, the new "overall rating supplements the star ratings currently posted for hospitals" based on patient experience survey data. CMS has posted patient survey summary star ratings since April 2015.
Out of 3,629 hospitals eligible for a rating:
- 83 hospitals received a five-star rating;
- 946 received a four-star rating;
- 1,794 received a three-star rating;
- 694 received a two-star rating; and
- 112 received a one-star rating.
CMS did not assign star ratings to 969 hospitals for which it lacked sufficient data (CMS methodology, accessed 12/21).