Add one more rating to the growing list of online ratings for health and human service provider organizations and clinical professionals. Earlier this month, consumers got to see the growing fruits of measurement collection as the expansion of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) five-star program continued, and CMS upgraded its Hospital Compare website to add summary star ratings to reflect the quality of patient experiences (see Medicare Releases First-Ever Hospital Compare Star Ratings).
If you aren’t familiar with it, the Hospital Compare star ratings are based on data from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey (HCAHPS) measures. This is part of a continuing trend, with more CMS work on ratings – Medicare Updates Nursing Home Star Rating System To Focus On Quality Of Care, Medicare Updates Nursing Home Star Rating System To Focus On Quality Of Care, and CMS Increases Star-Rating Threshold For 2015 Medicare Advantage Plan Rate Bonuses.
What caught some people (but not me) by surprise, was the relatively low scores of hospitals in terms of patient experience. For the 3,553 hospitals with an HCAHPS Summary Star Rating (representing about 7% of the U.S. hospitals), 2.2% have a single star, 21% have two stars, 37% have three stars, 25% have four stars, and 15% have a five-star rating. This means that only 251 hospitals achieved the highest score. Unfortunately for some hospitals, the initial reaction from managers seems to be one of resistance – a recent Modern Healthcare story, Only 251 U.S. hospitals receive 5-star rating on patient satisfaction, notes that:
Hospitals had a chance to preview the ratings last fall and many have already expressed concern. They question the methodology and whether the ratings reflect “meaningful reflections of performance.” They also say trying to boil down a hospital’s performance to a single score may oversimplify the information that is most relevant to consumers.
But for the more savvy hospitals, this is a situation that will create a great marketing opportunity, and the reason is as simple as the results from a February article in The Journal of the American Medical Association – 65% of survey respondents were aware of online physician ratings sites; 35% select physicians based on good reviews; and 37% avoid physicians based on bad reviews (see Experts Question Hospital Raters’ Methods). Competing through ratings is common in other fields – and this is more proof that ratings are making deeper inroads into health care.
How to compete in an era of online ratings? The first step – know the scores for you, your clinical professionals, and your payers, and how those scores compare to your competitors. Here’s a quick guide.
There are now six ratings systems from CMS:
- Hospital Compare
- Physician Compare
- Home Health Compare
- Dialysis Facility Compare
- Medicare Plan Finder
- Supplier Directory
But that isn’t the only place that executives of service provider organizations should look to see how they, their clinical professionals, and their payers score. Other online ratings system include:
- The Joint Commission’s Health Care Organization Quality Check – This allows users to search for accredited and certified organizations by city and state, by name or by zip code, and download free hospital performance measure.
- Truven Health Analytics 100 Top U.S. Hospitals – Truven Health Analytics, formerly the health care business of Thomson Reuters publishes information and benchmarks for the health care industry, including hospitals, government agencies, employers, health plans, clinicians, and pharmaceutical and medical device companies.
- Consumer Reports’ Hospital Safety Ratings – This monthly magazine publishes reviews and comparisons of consumer products and services.
- U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals List – U.S. News & World Report publishes a “best” series of consumer guides that includes rankings of hospitals and nursing homes.
- The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Health Plan Report Card – The NCQA develops quality standards and performance measures for a broad range of health care organizations. The NCQA Health Plan Report Card helps you create a custom report card from hundreds of NCQA-Accredited health plans.
- Angie’s List – This site collects ratings and reviews on more than 720 different services, including neurology, grief counseling, psychology, drug and alcohol abuse treatment centers, drug and alcohol testing, counseling, and psychiatry.
- Yelp – This site’s purpose is “to connect people with great local businesses”, and does so by allowing users to write reviews for the businesses they have used, and organizes the reviews by city and category (including a category for “health and medical”).
And then there are physician rating sites, which provide consumers with information about providers’ experience, patient satisfaction, and hospital quality, such as Healthgrades, RateMDs, vitals, and ZocDoc.
For a quick look at what the proliferation of quality performance measurements looks like, check out my article from last month, Are You Suffering From Measurement Fatigue?, as well as the work of my colleague Sarah Threnhauser, A Few More Drops In The Performance Measurement Bucket.
Whether you agree with the current rating systems or not, they are being used by consumers, referral sources, and payers to make choices about “preferred” service delivery – and your organization will need to learn how to compete based on performance as perceived by external organizations, and the consumers who listen to those organizations. And the start is knowing the ratings, tracking them religiously, and developing management initiatives to improve those scores.
Once you know the “score” so to speak, then there is the issue of managing your online reputation. Look for our advice on how to do just that, tomorrow.