CMS to update Hospital Compare rankings with critical access data

After introducing a five-star scale ranking hospitals on patient experience earlier this year, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Hospital Compare site will release a second round of rankings including data for critical access hospitals (CAHs), according to AHA News Now.

After the initial release omitted CAH data, the American Hospital Association (AHA) criticized the decision in a letter, noting that while CAHs are exempt from CMS' quality reporting requirement due to their low patient volumes, 94 percent of CAHs are registered to submit their quality data, and many payers, public and private, base pay-for-performance reimbursements on Hospital Compare data. 

In mid-June, CMS uploaded a file containing the CAH data missing from the initial Hospital Compare update. However, CMS did not post the information to Hospital Compare itself, according to AHA Vice President for Quality and Patient Safety Policy Nancy E. Foster. Moreover, the data, rather than listing hospitals by name or measure, lists providers by CMS Certification Number and the code for the measures, a format "unusable to anyone without significant expertise in data analysis," she wrote.

Not only does this data format leaves patients unable to determine their local providers' rankings, it prevents hospitals from determining opportunities for improvement or better performers as a model for their strategies, according to the letter.

CAHs, despite numerous reimbursement cuts, can serve as a model for patient-centered, cost-reducing care models, FierceHealthcare previously reported. However, federal minimum-distance requirements may disrupt care for communities that depend on CAHs.

To learn more:
- read the AHA News brief
- here's the letter (.pdf)