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Rural Hospital Tracks Shift to Value in CMS Star Ratings

By John Commins  
   August 17, 2016

Only 20% all hospitals scored a Four-Star rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. One rural hospital CEO talks about getting the message out to patients and their families about the high quality care delivered locally.

Susan Starling, CEO of Mercy Health's Marcum and Wallace Memorial Hospital in Irvine, KY says she's reasonably happy with the Four-Star rating her 25-bed critical access hospital received from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That is, until she has to explain to patients why the hospital didn't merit Five Stars.

"I don't think the patients or their families understand the whole rating system," Starling says. "We may perceive Four Stars as really great because there aren't many Five Stars in the U.S., but I don't know that patients understand. They want to know why we're not Five Stars."

Although much of the rankings are based upon patients' perception of their care, Starling says "it's a complicated rating system that is not really set for patients to be able to have a good understanding of what the ratings mean."

"In our market area we do well compared to our competition, but I am not sure how you can market that," she says. "There is opportunity to do that, but I don't know what it is."

Like many hospital leaders, Starling says Marcum and Wallace scores well with the factors it can control.

"Our hospital has high scores in cleanliness. We focus on making it a good patient experience. In a rural hospital we are family and friends caring for family and friends," she says.

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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