America’s Best Hospitals: An Achievement that Saves and Improves Lives
As the nation inches its way toward a more open and quality-driven healthcare system, consumers are moving away from being a passive participant, to being a proactive partner in a wide range of healthcare decisions. We are more forthcoming about what we feel, need and want from the healthcare community. Handpicking a hospital may not be on your to-do list, but it should be.
It is difficult to have a preference about where to go and who to see until you know what is important to you. And what’s important varies depending on what side of the wellness fence you are sitting on. But hospital quality is now making an appearance on consumers’ merit radar the same way we value quality ratings for the cars we drive. While at first glance it looks like all hospitals are alike, a closer look under the hood rryals they are not.
For the last 14 years HealthGrades has been doing the heavy lifting for consumers looking to find the best healthcare options including the selection of a quality hospital. Using the information available through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) HealthGrades has scoured through 150 million patient hospitalization records to identify the hospitals that have the lowest death and complication rates across 26 different diagnoses and procedures for the most consecutive years. These hospitals are designated as HealthGrades America’s 50 Best or 100 Best Hospitals. Every year the HealthGrades America’s Best Hospitals Report has provided a framework for consumers to see which hospitals in their community perform at the highest standard year after year.
Will I Know a Top-Rated Hospital When I See It?
If you are like most people you probably don’t have a set idea about what quality in healthcare means. Understanding quality is complex and unfamiliar. Unless you are a doctor, nurse or other healthcare provider you may not notice these quality yardsticks in action. The nonclinical aspects of care, such as the face-to-face interactions and respectfulness we experience, play a large role and those are the aspects of care we tend to talk up about to our friends and family. But the technical aspects of healthcare, such as complication rates, mortality rates, and details about the methods of clinical and surgical care, are a little harder to grasp.
It’s the clinical and nonclinical things hospital staff, doctors, nurses, and administrators do or not do, that influences quality care and that factor separates the good hospitals from the rest.
What Does It Take to be an America’s Best Hospital?
HealthGrades has made it its mission to make this information available and understandable so that consumers can make good decisions for themselves, and their loved ones. HealthGrades uses a statistical approach to compare the clinical quality of hospitals —how well the patient fared during their hospital stay in terms of mortality rates and preventable complications across 26 different diagnoses and procedures. To fairly compare hospitals to one another, HealthGrades takes into account how sick the patients are at each hospital. Having sicker patients can make a hospital look bad because these patients are likely to undergo the most risky procedures, experience complications, and sometimes die, despite optimal care. So HealthGrades takes this into consideration through a process called risk adjustment.
While not dying doesn’t automatically mean high-quality care, the approach that HealthGrades uses to honor a top-performing hospital can give a valuable portrait of that hospital’s overall clinical performance. And if that hospital can retain those high standards year after year, patients can be confident they are choosing to receive care from a consistently high-performing hospital. This is the foundation of the HealthGrade America’s 50 and 100 Best Hospital Awards™.
As the number of clearly defined quality measures that hospitals are now mandated to follow, monitor, report, and fix grows, even more quality information will be available to consumers. Hospital performance matters, so compare wisely, so you and your loved ones don’t end up choosing a lemon.
To see if your hospital made the grade, search now