Hospital Rating Systems May Foster Confusion Instead of Clarity

A recent analysis of popular hospital rating systems revealed wide discrepancies. The research results were published this week by Health Affairs Journal and focused on four popular rating systems: U.S. News & World Report, Consumer Reports, Leapfrog, and HealthGrades. The study found that the rankings can confuse not only patients but providers and payors as well.

Some of the issues involve lack of consistency on how quality is measured and a lack of transparency in how the ratings are conducted. A key takeaway is that hospitals could use the data to help focus on improvements but are unable to do so until standardization and transparency issues are addressed.

While Consumer Reports and Leapfrog do provide “full methodological transparency” they fall short by using “judgment-based weighting schemes as opposed to approaches that incorporate information about measure reliability and validity.” Likewise, “U.S. News and HealthGrades do not make their proprietary risk-adjustment models fully transparent.”

Key findings in the study reveal that no single hospital was rated as a “high performer” by all four of the ranking systems. Additionally, only 10 percent of the 844 hospitals that were rated as a high performer in one system were also rated as a high performer in any of the other three systems.

Access to the full report is limited to subscribers of Health Affairs Journal but news articles on the report are available at the links below.

Fierce Healthcare: http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/best-and-worst-hospital-rankings-often-conflict-confuse-consumers/2015-03-03

New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/03/business/hospital-rating-systems-differ-on-best-and-worst-facilities.html?_r=0

Heath Affairs Journal: http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/34/3/423.full.html
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