- The CMS has updated the star ratings on its hospital compare website, using a new formula it says will result in broader distribution of the ratings, increased reliability and more stable estimates.
- The star ratings have been delayed for five months after the American Hospital Association (AHA) said it was worried about reliability and accuracy of the scores and "had significant concerns about the conceptual underpinning of the program."
- Using the new formula, 7% of hospitals have one star, compared to 3.6% using the prior method, and 9.1% have five stars, compared to 1.7% earlier.
Hospitals have numerous concerns with the evaluation of their quality and performance being simplified to a rating of one to five stars. They have also said the star ratings programs puts a heavy reporting burden on hospitals and doesn't present information in a way that is helpful to patients.
The AHA did not immediately comment on the new methodology, but statements from the CMS announcing the formula explained the statistical changes while not specifically addressing the broader, conceptual concerns hospitals have expressed in the past.
As before, the majority of hospitals have ratings between two and four stars. For December, about 32% of hospitals have three stars, 31% have four stars and 20% have two stars.
Despite the criticism, the CMS has continued to promote use of its star ratings and compare websites. Earlier this year, it rolled out a hospice compare website, and this week the agency updated its physician compare site to include patient experience scores and star ratings. Frustrations with the sites were not calmed, however, when CMS admitted the hospice compare site had multiple incorrect addresses, phone number and profit status listings.