Healthcare industry pushing back against hospital rating system

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. or CMS, released a new five-star hospital rating system. Penn State Hershey Medical Center received two stars, PinnacleHealth Harrisburg Hospital was given three out of five, and Holy Spirt earned four stars.

Health experts say the criteria includes infection rates, re-admittance, deaths, and patient survey results, covering things like noise and restroom cleanliness.

Several hospital trade groups are calling the rating system unfair and misleading. Dr. Janis Orlowski is with the Association of American Medical Colleges. She says the star system, is like comparing apples to oranges.

“Some of the bigger hospitals take on the more complicated cases,” Orlwski said. “They also take on more at-risk or underserved patients.”

Katie Byrnes is with Hospital & Healthsystems Association of Pennsylvania. She says that patients should not rely on the rating system when choosing a hospital for care.

“Do your research,” Byrnes said. “There are several independent sources. You don’t have to depend on one rating system.”

PinnacleHealth issued the following statement:

PinnacleHealth celebrates the spirit of healthcare quality reporting initiatives. We support the efforts of rating programs that provide transparency and meaningful information to raise public awareness about overall hospital quality, realizing there is no perfect or uniform method for measuring healthcare quality. Each program methodology has limitations that result in conflicting ratings that may not accurately reflect the quality of care provided by a healthcare organization.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) contends that the underlying methodology behind the CMS Hospital Compare Star Ratings is deeply flawed, and the American Hospital Association (AHA) is among the groups asking whether CMS’ method of rating hospitals is unfair to safety net and teaching hospitals. As a safety net hospital, we agree with both organizations. The CMS analysis needs to account for socio-demographic factors. Safety net hospitals see more acute health problems due to higher rates of chronic disease and smoking, and penalizing them for poor health outcomes takes resources away from hospitals that most need federal funds.

AHA notes that a recent econometric analysis found flaws with CMS’ approach to the ratings. We urge CMS to consider the complexity of care a hospital provides in its methodology, and along with the AHA, we believe CMS must work with hospitals to ensure its methodology is fair and reliable. Only when that is accomplished will patients have access to useful rating information and be able to make informed decisions about their care.

Regardless of the rating we receive, we carefully analyze the data used by each rating program to identify and address true quality issues. We continuously strive to provide patients with error-free, evidence-based care. We also continue to provide cutting-edge therapies to patients with complex conditions who have not responded to standard treatments. This is evidenced by our low infection rates, low readmission rates, and integrated care outcomes for those with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, heart failure and COPD. We provide care in a manner that respects the personal values and choices of our patients and their families.

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