Helping Patients and Their Families Choose Hospitals

Choosing a hospital can be overwhelming. You want to be sure you’re getting high-quality care in a positive environment – and preferably close to home. Because hospitals can differ in the safety and quality of care they give, we’ve made our Hospital Compare website easier to use by adding an overall hospital quality star rating.

You may already use Hospital Compare to view star ratings for patients’ experience of care. Those ratings summarize patients’ perspectives of hospital care and include topics like how well nurses and doctors communicate with patients and how clean and quiet hospitals are. Now, with the addition of an overall hospital quality star rating, you can find a summary of information on hospital quality and compare hospitals side by side using this information.

The new overall hospital quality star rating summarizes a hospital’s performance on 64 measures of quality in 7 areas. Medicare calculates the rating by measuring the quality of routine care hospitals give the average patient, like care you get when being treated for a heart attack or pneumonia. The rating also includes quality measures that focus on infections patients acquire in the hospital, like catheter-associated urinary tract infections. This overall quality rating doesn’t reflect the specialized care many hospitals give, like cutting edge cancer care.

The ratings are based on quality measure scores in 7 areas:

  1. Mortality: Measures show how many patients die, for any reason, within 30 days of admission to a hospital.
  2. Safety of care: Measures show how many people get infections while getting treatment for another condition in a healthcare setting.
  3. Readmissions: Measures show how many patients who have had a recent hospital stay need to go back into a hospital within 30 days of discharge.
  4. Patient experience: Measures show how recently discharged patients responded to a national survey about their hospital experience.
  5. Effectiveness of care: Measures show how often hospitals provide care based on clinical guidelines and best practices that results in the best outcomes for people with certain conditions.
  6. Timeliness of care: Measures show how quickly hospitals give recommended care for people with certain conditions.
  7. Efficient use of medical imaging: Measures show how often a hospital provides people specific tests, such as MRI’s or CT Scans, that create images of parts of the body to screen for or diagnose medical conditions under circumstances where they may not be medically necessary.

Hospitals get an overall rating between 1 to 5 stars. Measures used to calculate the overall hospital quality star rating are based on clinical guidelines and have undergone full scientific review and testing. In general, hospitals with higher ratings (4 or 5 stars) performed better on quality measures compared to other hospitals. Hospitals with lower ratings (1 or 2 stars) didn’t perform as well on measures compared to other hospitals. An explanation for how this overall rating was developed, and a snapshot of hospital performance, can be found here.

The overall star rating is just one resource you can use when choosing a hospital. In addition to the overall hospital quality star rating, you can look at a hospital’s performance for each individual measure to better understand the specifics of that hospital’s quality of care.

Adding an overall hospital quality star rating to Hospital Compare is just one way we’re making quality information more accessible to people with Medicare. These star rating programs are part of the Administration’s Open Data Initiative which aims to make government data freely available and useful while ensuring privacy, confidentiality, and security. Check out our compare sites today to find additional information on quality, and get the information you need to best manage your health. These sites include Nursing Home Compare, Physician Compare, Medicare Plan Finder, Dialysis Compare, and Home Health Compare.