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CMS Releases Hospital Quality Ratings

By Lisa Schulmeister, MN, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) released the star ratings on its Hospital Compare website on July 27, 2016. The goal of the site is to enable healthcare consumers to locate information on hospital quality, conduct side-by-side comparisons of hospitals, and review the data on quality presented.

Patients’ experience of hospital care is measured using the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey. The scores encompass 64 measures in 8 areas of hospital quality, including the patient’s perceptions of communication with nurses, communication with physicians, staff responsiveness, pain management, the hospital environment (cleanliness, quietness), communication about medications, and discharge information.

Ratings are converted to stars, and the overall ratings range from 1 to 5 stars (low to high). Interestingly, the most common overall rating is 3 stars, which would indicate an “average” hospital rating. Hospitals can use this rating information to improve care and services, and patients can use this information to compare hospitals in their communities.

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