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CMS to make patient hospital ratings public

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A federal initiative launched in October provides patients with an opportunity to rate their hospital experience — from the friendliness of staff to the cleanliness of patient rooms, reports The initiative from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requires hospitals to randomly select patients for a 27-question satisfaction survey.

Many hospitals, including already survey patients to determine their satisfaction, but until now those results were used only within the hospital. The new survey program, called the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Health Care Providers and Systems, raises the stakes by giving patients a public forum to grade the quality and efficiency of their care.

The first public reporting of HCAHPS results will occur in March 2008. Hospital results for patients discharged between October 2006 and June 2007 will be displayed on the Hospital Compare website and will be updated quarterly.

Hospitals can choose not to have individual results reported, but those opting out would be penalized with a 2 percent cut in their Medicare reimbursement rate. Medicare accounts for about 47 percent of hospital revenue but, on average, reimburses hospitals just 91 cents for each dollar in costs, according to the American Hospital Association.

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