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National hospital rating systems show little agreement – what’s a consumer to do?

Matt Austin of and coauthors compared four well-known designed for use by US consumers: U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals; HealthGrades’ America’s 100 Best Hospitals; Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Score; and ’ Health Safety Score. They analyzed ratings covering the time period from July 2012 to July 2013.

With each system using its own rating methods, having a different focus to its ratings, and stressing different measures of performance, the authors found that only 10 percent of the 844 hospitals rated as a high performer by one system were equally rated by any of the other rating systems. The complexity and opacity of the different rating systems, concluded the authors, “are likely to cause confusion instead of driving patients and purchasers to higher-quality, safer care.”

They recommend that organizations sponsoring ratings help patients interpret their data through the media and other information channels.

Article: National Hospital Ratings Systems Share Few Common Scores And May Generate Confusion Instead Of Clarity, J. Matthew Austin, Ashish K. Jha, Patrick S. Romano, Sara J. Singer, Timothy J. Vogus, Robert M. Wachter and Peter J. Pronovost, Health Affairs, doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2014.0201, published March 2015.


Source: Health Affairs