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Archive December 2017 XVIII, No. 12

The Ratings Game

How to score high in health rating systems — and how to defend yourself when you don't score well.

Anna Merriman

Anna Merriman, Associate Editor


Brielle Gregory

Brielle Gregory, Associate Editor



The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade assigns letter grades to hospitals based on their record of patient safety. Saint Anthony Hospital in Chicago was so upset that its patient safety grade was going to drop from an A to a C that it sued the ratings group for defamation, alleging that Leapfrog used inaccurate information when lowering the hospital's score.

Saint Anthony confronted Leapfrog when it learned of the impending C grade in the fall ratings. Leapfrog said the hospital lost points because it only electronically prescribed medications between 50% and 74% of the time. Saint Anthony disagreed, alleging that it uses electronic prescribing at least 95% of the time and that it provided corroborating data to Leapfrog. (Electronic prescribing accounts for about 14% of a hospital's final rating, according to the complaint.)

The hospital says the drop in grade would damage its reputation. "Saint Anthony competes with other hospitals in the immediate area, including one down the street," says the complaint. "One of the most important ways Saint Anthony recently has been able to distinguish itself is the high safety grades it receives from Leapfrog."

Leapfrog issues more than 1,800 hospitals spring and fall grades on 27 measures of hospital safety, including hand hygiene, bedsores and falls.

"The safety grade does get a lot of attention in local communities," says Erica Mobley, Leapfrog's director of operations. "What's making an impact is local and regional publications writing about hospitals in their communities. When they publish these articles, people are looking."

How do you rate?
Surgical facilities are now rated in all kinds of different ways. Here's how to score well in health rating systems — and how to defend yourself when you don't score well. Not only is your reputation on the line. Ratings could impact your reimbursements, too.

Henry Ford Wyandotte (Mich.) Hospital spent $250,000 to improve its lobby in January 2016 with the hopes of improving its patient experience. The hospital was shocked when it received a 68 on its next OAS CAHPS score from Press Ganey. Patients gave the hospital lower scores in 2 areas: discharge instructions and the facility experience, including how the facility cared for patients' families.

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