In November, the National Quality Forum (NQF) released key recommendations to address challenges and opportunities for improving the transparency, fairness, and usefulness of the Hospital Star Ratings program resulting from the Hospital Quality Star Rating Summit held earlier this year in Washington, DC.
In 2016, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) introduced the Hospital Star Rating System to provide healthcare consumers with accessible quality performance data to inspire informed healthcare decision-making. Since its launch, the healthcare community has split between support for the easily understandable format of the five-star ratings while raising concerns about the methodology employed by the system and confidence in the validity of the Star Ratings performance results.
To address these concerns, NQF convened a Summit of more than 20 experts representing the array of stakeholder perspectives—patients, consumers, employers and purchasers, healthcare providers, statisticians, and health plans— to work together to consider respective concerns and propose considerations for CMS. Based on the Expert Panel’s deliberations regarding opportunities to improve the program as well as its expertise in measurement science and understanding of stakeholder priorities, NQF identified three actionable recommendations:
- Be clear about the program intent and goals. The program’s methodology and design elements should align with the underlying intent and user needs.
- Be transparent about what the Star Ratings do and do not convey. The Star Ratings are designed to provide a summary of measures on Hospital Compare to support consumer understanding. Clear communication about the interpretation of the program and its methods is imperative.
- Design data presentation to meet consumer priorities and other user needs. There is an opportunity to enhance the presentation of the Star Ratings and user interaction with the summary data to make the program more actionable and relevant.