CMS ranks Medicare-certified hospitals across the country on a 1 to 5 Star scale. 5-Stars is best, 1-Star is worst. In 2017 Lompoc hospital received a 2-Star ranking. That’s a below average rating and the lowest rating of any hospital in Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo counties. Nationwide, Lompoc hospital was rated in the lower 15.7% of hospitals.
The CMS hospital ratings inform patients if a hospital is truly safe and whether the hospital provides quality care. CMS provides in-depth hospital ratings, (Hospital Compare), based on considerable patient data gathered from each hospital.
CMS reports on seven categories with an average of 39 individual measures within the seven categories to compute their hospital ratings. The methodology is known as a “Latent Variable Model,” and it led to a below average rating for Lompoc hospital.
- Safety of Care
- Patient Experience
- Effectiveness of Care
- Timeliness of Care
- Efficient Use of Medical Imaging
The Game of Hospital Awards
In addition to CMS hospital ratings, another kind of award is given out by hospital suppliers or vendors. These awards or promotions are sometimes referred to as “pay for play.” (You scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back.)
Such awards are sometimes given to hospitals where vendors already have business relationships. For example, Lompoc hospital’s Chief Operating Officer, Nishadh Buch, serves as an Advisor for the SafeCare Group, a hospital software company based in the United Arab Emirates. (A photograph of Mr. Buch is displayed on the SafeCare website.)
SafeCare named LVMC one of the 100 Safecare Hospitals 2014-2015 with under 100 beds. LVMC CEO Jim Raggio responded: “That provides a more valid rating and is a more appropriate indication of LVMC’s capability and quality of care than other surveys.” Mr. Raggio claimed the SafeCare award is “more valid” than “other surveys.” Since CMS fully discloses its rating methodology we emailed SafeCare asking for the methodology they used. SafeCare did not respond.
CMS or SafeCare?
Who should patients rely on? The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or an overseas-based company selling software to hospitals?
Lompoc hospital administrators could make more effort to score higher under CMS guidelines rather than claiming that a software vendor award is more valid than the CMS ratings that are based on extensive patient records available to CMS through the billing process.
Large Gap Between Cottage & Lompoc CMS Hospital Ratings
Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital and Cottage Hospital Santa Barbara both achieved CMS 5-Star ratings. That means they were rated in the upper 2.2% of hospitals nationwide. LVMC was rated in the lower 15.7% of hospitals nationwide. That’s quite a large gap in performance.