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CMS Updates Consumer Resources for Comparing Hospital Quality

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 Hospital Compare website and Star Ratings System are valuable consumer tools that provide helpful and important information on the safety and quality of our nation’s hospitals,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “These decision-making tools offer greater transparency on hospital performance for a wide variety of users – patients, caregivers, families, and the broader healthcare industry. We constantly aim to improve these resources with feedback from stakeholders, and we are confident this latest update of Hospital Compare data further strengthens this data.”

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.

Also today, CMS 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 Compareprovides 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.

CMS continues to work with patients, hospitals, and the healthcare community to explore ways to improve Hospital Compare, the Hospital Star Ratings, and the agency’s many other consumer decision-making tools, such as Nursing Home Compare and Dialysis Facility Compare, while keeping consumers’ need for practical, simple-to-use information the top priority. These CMS resources will continue to ensure that consumers have the most useful, relevant information needed to make vital healthcare decisions.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, CMS, data.medicare.gov, Hospital Compare, Hospital Quality Initiative, patient engagement, quality of care

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