Many of our readers, listeners and viewers are not aware of the different ratings available to help consumers evaluate hospitals. While there are challenges with using these ratings, they may be helpful for patients, especially those preparing for an elective procedure.
Experienced journalists have seen numerous stories examining the differing methodologies and motives of the groups that produce hospital ratings. Many journalists have written on this topic already. It’s important to make sure your readers understand how much marketing may be involved with reports they see about hospitals getting top marks.
The existence of hospital ratings is likely old news for many of us. But many of the people we serve may not know about them or not know what to do with the data they provide.
“Stories that are written about websites like Leapfrog Group can be a beneficial source of information,” Christine Smith of Rockville, Maryland said in an email to AHCJ.
Smith told me she thought Medstar Georgetown University Hospital was a top-rated center due in part to the statements on its website and its affiliation with a prestigious academic institution. During our conversation, I told her I would look at the ratings CMS had posted for Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. On Medicare.gov’s comparison page, the hospital earned two of five possible stars, as seen in the screenshot below.
But there are hospitals in neighboring Maryland and Virginia that earned four-star and five-star ratings. (If you are curious which hospitals got these more impressive marks, you can search here.) The same holds true in the latest rankings from The Leapfrog Group.