Healthcare News & Insights

Majority of hospital report cards get a failing grade

If you’re fed up with a bunch of private and government organizations grading your hospital, you’re not alone. One association got so sick of it they decided to turn the tables on those organizations and grade the quality of their grades.

179301507Nowadays, more and more organizations are jumping on the bandwagon to let the public know how your facility is doing, as far as performance goes, by giving it a letter grade. Problem is, the information they use to evaluate your performance is often based on personal opinion and/or outdated/incomplete information.

That’s why the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) created its own assessment report card to grade how well these hospital graders are doing.

Standard set of measures

It’s not that HANYS is against helping patients make informed choices or helping providers improve care by having access to hospital quality and safety information. It just feels these assessments should be “based on a standard set of measures that have been proven to be valid, reliable and evidence-based,” as stated in its report HANYS’ Report on Report Cards.

That’s why the association devised a set of guiding principles that report cards should follow that are based on academic research and the recommendations of the National Priorities Partnership convened by the National Quality Forum (NQF). These principles include:

  • transparent methodology
  • evidence-based measures
  • measure alignment
  • appropriate data source
  • most current data
  • risk-adjusted data
  • data quality
  • consistent data, and
  • hospital preview.

Grading hospital graders

The scoring ranged from a half a star for report cards that met few to none of the criteria to three stars for report cards that met all or nearly all the criteria.

So how did the hospital graders make out being graded themselves? Answer: Not very well.

In fact, one of the most popular and most famous report cards got the lowest grade of a half star.

U.S. News and World Report got the worst ranking from HANYS because it uses opinion surveys from U.S. doctors. “A subjective perception of hospital reputation is not a scientifically proven measure to evaluate hospitals’ processes of care,” wrote HANYS in its report.

Leapfrog Hospital Safety Score, another highly publicized report card, got only one star. Reason: According to HANYS it relies “heavily on unvalidated survey data” collected directly from hospitals.

Consumer Reports’ Hospital Safety Rating also got one star for using data from different sources and time frames. HANYS considers insurance billing records to be inferior to data from medical charts, and guess what Consumer Reports uses in their assessment.

Overall, it seems that government agencies and accrediting organization were more successful at meeting HANYS’s criteria.

The Joint Commission Quality Check received three stars because it bases its assessment on how well hospitals meet benchmarks on a number of measures. Medicare’s Hospital Compare and two New York State Department of Health also received three star ratings.

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