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CMS will postpone July hospital star ratings with no word on release date of new ratings

Star ratings released in December 2017 will remain on Hospital Compare until the next update.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is postponing the overall hospital quality star ratings for July, as previously scheduled. 

The star ratings from July preview reports will not be published on Hospital Compare, CMS said. The star ratings released in December 2017 will remain on the site until the next update. The agency gave no indication of a date for when the new star ratings will be released.

CMS said the delay is to give time for analysis of the impact of changes to some of the star ratings measures and to address stakeholder concerns. 

As well as a public comment period, CMS will seek feedback from a multi-disciplinary technical expert panel and a provider leadership workgroup.

America's Essential Hospitals welcomed the news, saying that while it supported making meaningful quality data available to consumers, it was concerned that the star ratings could do more harm than good in their current form. 

"Reviews of July preview reports show large shifts in overall hospital star ratings from December 2017 to July 2018," said the organization's President and CEO Bruce Siegel, MD. "These changes have created confusion and raised new questions about the reliability and validity of the methodology used to calculate these ratings."

This is not the first delay for the star ratings.

In December 2017, after a five-month delay, CMS said it had updated its star ratings formula based on hospital feedback that its former methodology was flawed.

When the ratings were released, it showed three times as many hospitals earned five stars in the 1 to 5 star ranking than in the previous report.

Star ratings matter because it impacts the way hospitals are perceived by experts and the public, which can have financial consequences. 

CMS updates Hospital Compare quarterly. On July 25 it will give new data for outcome measures on 30-day mortality, 30-day readmissions, and CMS patient safety indicators; outpatient imaging efficiency; payment and value of care; timely and effective care; healthcare-associated infections; and the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, or HCAHPS survey.

CMS is excluding the pain management composite from its calculation of HCAHPS and will not include it on Hospital Compare or in the downloadable databases. 

Overall hospital quality star ratings summarize data from existing measures for each hospital. The Hospital Compare website reports approximately 100 quality measures for over 4,000 hospitals nationwide.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com

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