In April, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will introduce a new star rating for hospitals that is intended to indicate “overall quality.” The single 5-star rating will combine 57 inpatient and outpatient quality reporting measures, and according to the American Hospital Association (AHA), the national distribution of the star ratings is on a bell-curve, with half of all hospitals receiving three stars. No state-level distribution information is available yet.
WSHA and WSHA members have a long-standing commitment to transparency in quality measures but as we found out through the development of www.WAHospitalQuality.org, it’s extremely difficult to combine different kinds of measures and scores in ways that are still meaningful. Hospitals should know and understand their scores, but should also be pointing patients to www.WAHospitalQuality.org so that they can look specifically at the measures that relate to them. Patients should not rely only on a rating when deciding where to get care.