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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Northwestern: Hospital Ratings Systems Get Low Grades from Experts in ‘Rating the Raters’ Study

Experts have turned the tables on hospital rating systems and graded the rating systems on their strengths and weaknesses. Most only got “C’s” and “D’s.” The highest grade received was a “B” by U.S. News & World Report, according to new study.

The study, “Rating the Raters,” was published on Aug. 14 in the New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst. It grades the four major publicly reported hospital quality rating systems in the U.S.

“Current hospital quality rating systems often offer conflicting results – a hospital might rate best on one rating system and worst on another,” said lead author Dr. Karl Bilimoria, director of the Northwestern Medicine Surgical Outcomes and Quality Improvement Center within the Northwestern University Institute for Public Health and Medicine. “We wanted to provide information on how to interpret these contradictory ratings, so people can better select the best hospital for their needs.”

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Star Ratings received a “C.” The lowest grades were for Leapfrog, “C-,” and Healthgrades, “D+.”

Until now, there has been little guidance on how to compare these rating systems.

“It’s been confusing for patients who are trying to make sense of these ratings,” said Dr. Bilimoria, also the John B. Murphy Professor of Surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “How are patients supposed to know which rating systems are good or bad? This study gives them information from a group of quality measurement experts to figure out which rating system is the best.”

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