Federal agency offers a consumer-friendly website that ranks patients’ experiences in your local hospitals

Consumers now have access to a website that ranks 3,500 hospitals around the country on patients’ experiences to help them choose a hospital and better understand the quality of care participating hospitals offer, according to a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services press release.

The 12 star ratings on Hospital Compare are based on 11 of the publicly reported measures from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey, and a summary rating for the survey. The survey asks patients questions about nine topics:communication with doctors, communication with nurses, responsiveness of hospital staff, pain management, communication about medicines, discharge information, cleanliness of the hospital environment, quietness of the hospital environment, and transition of care. This survey information is self-reported by patients and will be updated quarterly.

“The patient experience star ratings will make it easier for consumers to use the information on the Hospital Compare website and spotlight excellence in health care quality,” Dr. Patrick Conway, acting principal deputy administrator for the CMS, said in the release.

Consumers already have access to Medicare star systems to rate nursing homes, dialysis centers, private Medicare Advantage insurance plans and certain situations for physicians and group practices, but are they using it?

Not much, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll. It found that only 31 percent of those polled had seen any information comparing doctors, hospitals, and health insurance plans in the past 12 months. When asked specifically if they had seen information comparing prices or quality across plans and providers, fewer than 1 in 5 people said they had seen such information, and fewer than one in 10 reported using such information.

CMS said the website helps meet goals of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which calls for transparent, easily understood and widely available public reporting. The agency also reminds consumers that the site is just one tool to help them make a decision abut which hospital to use, and encourages them to talk to their health-care providers about hospital quality, and to use “multiple factors” when deciding about a hospital, such as clinical outcomes and other publicly reported data that is on the website.

To see the rankings:

  • Go to the Hospital Compare website
  • Type in your ZIP code, or the name of a particular hospital
  • Click on “Search”
  • Choose three hospitals, by clicking on the “Add to Compare” button
  • Click on “Compare Now,” located at the top of the screen
  • Click on “Survey of Patients’ Experiences”
  • Scroll down and view star ranking and additional information results
This is a screen shot of the final screen, with a bar of options to click on.
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