Don’t panic: CMS ratings aren’t as scary as you think. Here’s why.
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Don’t panic: CMS ratings aren’t as scary as you think. Here’s why.

CMS ratings may have treated you unfairly, but they’re actually pushing you in the right direction.

Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS) unveiled their controversial hospital quality star ratings on HospitalCompare. This website contains data concerning quality of care at 4,000 Medicare-certified hospitals across the U.S.

Though some in healthcare—including the American Hospital Association—have pushed back against this move, citing flawed methodologies and unfair comparisons, it is undeniable that the current zeitgeist in the industry is moving toward transparency in several arenas, including price, quality, and patient experience.

In fact, CMS may create a website like Physician Compare next. As the healthcare market continues to be more and more consumer driven, potential patients want to know as much as possible about a hospital and its providers so they can make informed healthcare decisions.

Will CMS ratings affect your patient acquisition and retention?

CMS ratings are a hot topic in healthcare news right now because they’re shaking up the industry and challenging previously held beliefs about quality and the importance of patient experience. However, these star ratings are only available on the HospitalCompare site, a fact that has two important ramifications:

  • The site isn’t heavily trafficked by average consumers, and
  • In terms of SEO, it performs poorly. Googling your organization won’t lead to this site.

For many organizations, the CMS ratings are more of a wake-up call than an actual strategic threat. Even the HospitalCompare site advises that “The HCAHPS star ratings compare hospitals to each other. A 1-star rating doesn’t mean that you’ll get poor care from a hospital. It means that hospitals that got 2 or more stars performed better on this particular measure of patient experience of care. For this reason, we suggest that you use the star rating along with other quality information when making decisions about choosing a hospital.”

In this way, CMS ratings are actually a strategic opportunity for your organization.

Combat CMS ratings with patient-centric ratings

If your leadership or providers have been hesitant about becoming transparent with provider-level data like organizations Geisinger Health System, UAB Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and many more, this can be a chance to help them take a small step in that direction. With Doctor.com’s ProviderReview, verified HCAHPS survey data about your up-to-date patient ratings are displayed right on your website. This can be done in a matter of weeks, not months, and may be significantly easier to buy into than provider-specific reviews.

This strategy is one example of how you can take advantage of disruption in the industry to move your organization forward. Obviously, the next step from there is to empower patients with even more focused scores on your providers.

And unlike the vague, obtuse star ratings from CMS, transparency with provider ratings consist of comprehensive, detailed reviews of specific providers—from actual patient experiences in their own words. Our star ratings are tailored directly to providers, and not the hospital as a whole, so consumers can exactly the information they’re looking for, and not generalities.

Transparency is here to stay

At Doctor.com, we help healthcare organizations with the move toward building a more effective digital presence. It’s not just a trend—it’s about leveraging the many data sources you have and using them to improve your organization and increase health outcomes.

Significant change doesn’t happen overnight. Empowering patients and improving health outcomes with transparency takes planning, solid communication strategies, and iterative roll-out processes. Doctor.com’s  experience, tools and data experts give your team the support they need to make the change stick.

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