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King Farm Blog

IKF Blog
Posted: Monday, July 27, 2015

New ratings help you evaluate hospital care

You probably check restaurant ratings when you’re going out to eat. It’s easy to find out on your smartphone, tablet or computer what other people think about their dining experiences—there are sites like Yelp that let diners post reviews online. 

Shouldn’t it be just as easy to find out what people think about the quality of medical care they receive? Well, now it is. A new feature implemented earlier this year on Medicare’s Hospital CompareWeb site provides star ratings that indicate the quality of care people received at hospitals near you. 

Medicare is now providing star ratings for almost 3,500 Medicare-certified, acute-care hospitals. They provide a snapshot of 11 measures of patients’ experience of care, which is one aspect of evaluating hospital quality, plus a summary rating that averages all of the star ratings. The ratings, which are updated every three months, use a five-star scale, with more stars indicating better quality of care. Together with other information, they can help you compare hospitals and choose the best one for you. 

The ratings cover topics like how well nurses and doctors communicated with patients, how responsive hospital staff were to patient needs, how clean and quiet hospital environments were, how well pain was managed and how well patients were informed about post-hospital care when they were discharged. There’s also a rating on how willing patients were to recommend the hospital in which they stayed. 

The information used to create the star ratings came from surveys taken by a sample of adult patients after their discharge. The survey is not restricted to Medicare beneficiaries. 

You can find information about particular hospitals on the Hospital Compare site on other topics including: 

  • Timely and effective care—how often and quickly the hospital gives recommended treatments for conditions like heart attack, stroke and pneumonia
  • Readmissions, complications and mortality—how each hospital performs as compared to state and national rates; how likely patients are to suffer complications; and how often patients in the hospital get certain serious conditions that could have been prevented
  • Use of medical imaging—how the hospital uses outpatient imaging tests such as CT scans and MRIs
  • Payment and value of care—how each hospital’s payment for heart attack patients compares to the national average, and information on measures of payments and patient outcomes. Evaluating payments and outcomes together can help you assess the hospital’s value of care. 

To use the Hospital Compare site, you can enter your location to find hospitals near you or enter the name of a specific hospital you want to investigate. You’ll see general information about the hospital and tabs for the survey of patients’ experiences and the other topics listed above. Along with the star ratings, you can view the results for patients’ experiences in percentage or graph form. 

You may want to visit the site if you are going to have an elective inpatient procedure. It’s a good idea, too, to plan ahead by comparing the hospitals in your area if you have a chronic condition such as heart disease, in case you need emergency care. Researching the options gives you a great foundation for an informed discussion with your doctor. You’ll want to know what other factors may come into play, such as which hospitals your physician or surgeon works with. 

If you’d like to know more about how to choose a hospital, Medicare’s Web site has a helpful online checklist and guide that you can view here.






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