New ratings give public scorecard on Butler hospitals

A new national hospital rating system provides another scorecard, said local health care officials, for helping the public evaluate Butler County hospitals and those nationwide.

The recently released “Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating” is designed to help individuals, their family members and caregivers compare hospitals in an easily understandable way.

Published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the ratings include the quality of care across the five health care settings that most families encounter.

Thomas Urban, north market president and CEO for Mercy Health Centers regional health system, welcomes the measurement.

The hospital earned four of five stars.

Joining Mercy Fairfield with four of five stars were: West Chester Hospital; Atrium Medical Center and Fort Hamilton Hospital.

The McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital in Oxford earned three of five stars.

Warren County’s Atrium Medical Center also earned four stars.

Fewer than 200 hospitals nationally received the top five-star rating.

The national CMS rankings are “important” said Urban, given that almost half of the Butler County health center’s patients are on Medicare or Medicaid.

“This is an outside group that people who work there (Mercy Health) and patients there already know. So to have them come out and say we are close to perfect as we can come is good,” said Urban. “We are very appreciative.”

“Residents in Butler County should feel confident that when they go to Fairfield Mercy Hospital they will receive not only the highest quality of care but also receive that care with compassion,” said Urban.

Officials behind the new federal ratings cautioned that hospitals are “only assessed on the measures for which they submit data.”

CMS officials said some of the measures used to calculate the Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating are based only on data from Medicare beneficiaries and some are based on data from hospitals’ general patient population, regardless of payer.

For example, they said, measures on deaths, re-admissions, and use of medical imaging include data from Medicare beneficiaries only. The patient experience, safety, and timely and effective care measures include data from any adult patient treated at hospitals. Specialized and cutting edge care that certain hospitals provide, such as specialized cancer care, are not reflected in these quality ratings.

Teri Sholder, chief quality officer for Kettering Health Network, which operates Fort Hamilton Hospital, said while “there is great value in being transparent so consumers of health care can find high-quality care, but it’s important for consumers to know that there is inconsistency among the various ratings and reports.”

“While we appreciate public recognition from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for our exceptional care, it’s important for our residents to know that the most trusted source for their care needs is their primary care physician,” said Sholder.

The ratings can be a useful tool for patients, said John Palmer, a spokesman for the Ohio Hospital Association. But consumers have an increasing number of sources for information online, including separate rankings from organizations like Consumer Reports and U.S. News and World Report.

“Ultimately it’s collaborating and talking with their health-care provider that is highly recommended for the consumer to make the best choice possible,” Palmer said.

(Cox Media Staff Writer Matt Sanctis contributed to this story.)

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