Hospital star ratings useful, but don’t tell the whole story
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ star-rating system has raised questions about its usefulness, prompting the agency to break down exactly how it arrives at the ratings. But a look at the data shows it’s unclear how much the system actually helps consumers choose the best care, according to an article in JAMA.Harvard’s Ashish K. Jha, M.D., and colleagues analyzed data to determine whether the star ratings steer patients in the direction of safer hospitals. Their analysis determined that for every 70 patients transferred from a one-star facility to a five-star facility, one life would be saved. However, holding all other factors constant, star ratings became a much less reliable predictor of patient safety and mortality when comparing different types of hospitals, such as urban teaching hospitals and small rural providers.