How to Achieve A High CMS Star Ratings

By David Fetterolf, Stratus Video President

Many of our clients are concerned about their institution's CMS Star Ratings. The Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating was put into effect by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to enable patients and caregivers to more seamlessly compare hospitals and healthcare facilities. Hospitals are assessed across 64 quality measures to create an overall score on a scale of one to five stars. The assessment outcome is of great significance to hospitals, as the credibility, efficiency, culture and financial state of the institution are directly impacted and/or influenced by the star rating. Facilities can achieve higher scores by fostering a patient-centered culture throughout the organization. It has been shown that hospitals who place great emphasis on the importance of both patient satisfaction and quality of care earn the highest star ratings.

So how can your overall hospital quality star rating be improved?


Better Patient Satisfaction:

There is a strong correlation between hospitals with high overall star ratings and hospitals with high HCAHPS scores. In other words, high overall care quality is correlated with high patient satisfaction. By providing patient centric services, such as language services for the limited English proficiency (LEP) and Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HOH) patient population, hospitals can work towards improving patient satisfaction and quality of care. High star rating facilities foster a culture of constant progress towards improved patient care and care quality. There are several steps that facilities can take to improve ratings and foster such a culture, including enhancing focus on consumer perception, conducting regular data assessment, retraining healthcare staff and enabling better patient-provider communication.


Enhanced Consumer Perception:

Consumer perception of care quality is directly impacted by star ratings. Patients and caregivers can easily access star ratings on Hospital Compare, a website provided by CMS. The ratings enable patients to make more informed decisions about where to receive care. By prioritizing consumer perception, healthcare facilities work toward improving patient satisfaction, achieving higher ratings, gaining credibility and securing more business. Consumer perception of care has become so significant that many hospitals have since implemented a comprehensive strategy dedicated exclusively to overcoming star challenges.


High Patient Engagement:

Hospitals with high overall ratings consistently demonstrate high levels of patient engagement. Studies show that high patient engagement is correlated with better patient outcome. One way to quickly improve patient engagement is to ensure that all patients have meaningful access to healthcare information. For LEP and Deaf/HOH patients, this information can be conveyed through the use of a medically qualified interpreter. Once patients have meaningful access to their healthcare information, they are more likely to actively participate in their healthcare plans, which has been shown to improve both patient outcome and overall level of care.


Company Wide Alignment:

High star ratings can be achieved with an organization-wide alignment on the improvement steps that need to be taken. By analyzing both short and long-term star rating measures, such as mortality and safety of care, hospitals can more quickly identify and address any shortcomings that may negatively impact their rating. Positive trends, such as an increase in patient-provider engagement or a reduction in 30-day readmissions, should also be noted and efforts duplicated in such areas. Once a patient-centric culture is present, it is important to reemphasize the importance of quality care to healthcare staff as well as the great impact of star ratings on both the financial state and credibility of the institution.


To read more, download our white paper on the topic at this link.

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