Finding Reliable Quality Information

Organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Joint Commission have all evolved during the past 40 years to become trusted agencies that define health care quality standards.

More recently, numerous non-profit and for-profit companies that offer health care analytics and consulting services have begun defining quality in their own right. These companies often use data from common sources, such as CMS, and repackage it with their own formula and/or additional data to create their definition of quality or safety. Because they use their own formula, their results sometimes are not transparent or reproducible.  

Today, various published ratings, grades, and scorecards use different methodologies, source data, and reporting mechanisms. Their findings and measures can change from year to year, making comparisons over time difficult. As a result, a hospital can score well on one rating and poorly on another.

All of these rating organizations are attempting to increase awareness of safety and quality of care in hospitals across the county and to drive more transparency on the topic. That is good news. But, with so many measures available and so much variability, it can be hard to know which measures are the most reliable.

We understand that patients and family members need access to helpful information to better understand health care quality and make informed decisions about where to seek care. Following are three sources for reliable hospital quality information.

Nationally Recognized Resources

  • WhyNotTheBest.org - Operated by the non-profit Commonwealth Foundation, this site allows patients and families to compare hospital safety using data from the biggest payer, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), as well as the Institute of Medicine, Agency for Healthcare Research, and other reliable sources.
  • HospitalCompare.gov - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services offers its own comparison of hospitals serving Medicare patients.
  • QualityCheck.org - Hospital ratings and comparisons from The Joint Commission, a nationally recognized accrediting body for hospitals.

Additional Resources

For additional information about health care and hospital quality standards, visit these sites:

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