Quality & Patient Safety

CMS publicly unveils hospital star ratings

Briefings on Accreditation and Quality, September 1, 2016

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After months of delays, CMS in July publicly released its hospital star ratings system on its Hospital Compare website. The public can now see the Hospital Compare overall rating for 3,662 hospitals across the U.S.

The release came after several key developments in CMS' Hospital Star Ratings program. Earlier in July, a consortium of hospital groups published a letter calling for CMS to release all their data on the star ratings methodology. The letter included a report by a Georgetown University economist and statistician who pointed out several discrepancies in CMS' scoring methodology.

A few weeks later, CMS released a data brief which showed that only 2% of hospitals achieved the five-star rating and that teaching hospitals and disproportionate share hospitals (DSH) received lower scores on average. The agency announced that the ratings would go public "soon."

On July 26, Congress proposed a bill that would have delayed the star ratings system for a full year, and required CMS to release all its data on the star ratings methodology and have it verified by a third party.

What are the arguments for the star ratings?

An Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating is based on 64 quality measures and is intended to make hospital quality more transparent for patients. The measures are broken up into seven categories; mortality, safety of care, readmission, patient experience, effectiveness of care, timeliness of care, and efficient use of medical imaging.

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