Patients at top-performing hospitals have a 49% lower risk of dying compared to low-performing facilities, Healthgrades finds

Patients treated at the nation's best performing hospitals have a 49 percent lower mortality risk rate than the poorest performing hospitals, according to a 2020 Healthgrades analysis published Oct. 22. 

For the analysis, Healthgrades reviewed data from nearly 4,500 hospitals across the nation, assessing clinical outcomes for 32 procedures and conditions.

Here are five things to know about Healthgrades 2020 Report to the Nation on hospital quality:

1. The rankings: Healthgrades groups hospital quality performance into three categories: five star, three star and one star. Performance was based on risk-adjusted in-hospital complication rates and in-hospital 30-day post-admission mortality rates.

For Healthgrades' list of the top 10 percent of hospitals in key specialties, click here

2. Mortality and complication risk: Patients treated at hospitals with five-star ratings, compared to hospitals with a one-star rating, have a 49 percent lower mortality risk and a 59 percent lower risk of experiencing one or more complications during a hospital stay.

If all hospitals performed as five-star hospitals did from 2016-18, 220,019 lives could potentially have been saved and 149,403 complications could potentially have been avoided among Medicare patients.

3. Consumers: Healthgrades surveyed more than 1,200 consumers and found that consumers' main concerns when selecting a provider are reputation and quality.   

  • Almost all (97.1 percent) respondents said they consider quality when selecting a hospital.
  • The most important thing when choosing a hospital for more than half of respondents is information about hospital quality performance.
  • Consumers are increasingly researching providers online, even after receiving a recommendation from a doctor, family or friends.
  • The number of patients who don't use online sources to inform their healthcare choices decreased 81 percent in the last three years.

4. Hospital executives and clinical leaders: Most organizations list quality improvement as a top priority, along with patient outcomes.

In a Healthgrades survey, successful healthcare leaders reported incorporating quality into the hospital's strategic plan, increasing resource investment, promoting a culture of quality, being transparent with patients and having experience as key priorities.

Leaders are using data analytics tools integrated with EHR systems to drive quality improvement.

5. Heathgrades believes these four core tenets guide successful hospital quality improvement strategies:

  • Reducing unwanted clinical variability.
  • Pursuing Transparent and inclusive engagement with key stakeholders across the organization.
  • Establishing an organizational imperative around delivering the best outcomes to create a culture of quality.
  • Committing to continuous quality improvement, including processes that prevent digression.

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