It is important to know where you feel the most confident to receive medical care before you have an emergency. Hospitals are held to very high Federal standards determined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). There are some valuable online resources to help patients see how hospitals in their area compare to each other. Below, in my opinion, are the three best sites to research and compare hospitals.
Hospital Compare: Hospital Compare is a government website where up to three hospitals in a region can be compared. The first tab of the comparison will display general information such as the hospital’s overall star rating and the distance from the zip code that was entered for the search. The star rating is determined by how a hospital ranks in comparison to the national average for seven different categories. This page will also show the type of hospital and whether it provides emergency services. The remainder of the tabs focus is on the patient experience and quality measures including complications and mortality.
Leapfrog: Leapfrog is another site for hospital comparison. Again, the consumer enters a zip code to obtain a list of area hospitals. Measures for this site include inpatient care, medication safety, maternity care, high risk surgeries and infections and injuries. The bar graph simply shows how compliant the hospital is with each measure. Some hospitals may not qualify for reporting on certain categories or choose not to report because they did not have enough information. The Leapfrog site also offers great information on the reasoning behind safety and quality measures and why it’s important to be informed.
Why Not the Best?: This site is unique in that you can run and save reports. This site will compare individual hospitals just like the first two. It will also compare hospital systems and show statistics on healthcare in any region of the country. The reports allow the consumer to see map and graph views of patient safety statistics. You can create an account on WNTB.org and save your reports to refer to at a later time.
Choosing a hospital based on the success of its patient care and patient experience is wise. The providers in hospitals work very hard to achieve excellent ratings. However, do not discount your own personal experience and where you feel the most confident in the care. On a side note, you will also need to check with your insurance company to make sure that your inpatient hospital stay will be covered.