- The new star ratings formula from CMS favors specialty hospitals over major teaching hospitals, an analysis by consulting firm Sullivan, Cotter and Associates and Modern Healthcare shows.
- Of 74 specialty hospitals rated in December, 45 (61%) got a five-star rating and 15 (22%) earned four stars. By contrast, only 15 (9%) of 172 major teaching hospitals received five stars and 25 (15%) received four stars.
- CMS updated its star ratings in December using a new formula designed to improve accuracy and broaden distribution of the ratings. The new formula increased the share of one-star hospitals from 3.6% to 7% and five-star hospitals from 1.7% to 9.1%.
Specialty hospitals reported on average just 27.2 of the 57 measures CMS weighs to allot star ratings, and those were given more weight under the new formula, according to the analysis. By comparison, teaching hospitals reported 51.37 on average.
Specialty hospitals were less likely than teaching hospitals to report the heavily weighted mortality measure. According to the analysis, 71% of specialty hospitals assigned five stars did not include mortality.
Comparatively, the major teaching hospitals consistently reported all of the measures required to meet the safety of care, mortality, readmissions and patient experience categories. The 57 measures are divided among those and three other categories: effectiveness of care, timeliness of care and efficient use of medical imaging.
Hospitals have a lot to gain or lose from the CMS star rating system and other online rating sites. Ratings can affect a health system’s bottom line and boost or damage brandname recognition.
Last fall, Chicago-based nonprofit Saint Anthony Hospital sued The Leapfrog Group for defamation after its safety grade on that site dropped from A to C. In its complaint, the hospital said the downgrade to would “erase years of improvements at the hospital and irreparably degrade the public perception of the hospital.”
The most recent star ratings were delayed for five months after the American Hospital Association expressed concerns about the accuracy and reliability of the scores and “the conceptual underpinnings of the program.”