Rating Coachella Valley Hospitals: What Consumers Should Know

Directory of Hospital Rating Organizations

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http://www.ConsumerHealthRatings.com/ This site serves as a portal for information on organizations that rate or report performance on specific hospitals, health plans, physicians, nursing homes, home health agencies and other health care providers in the United States.

http://www.healthgrades.com/ Provides ratings for hospitals, nursing homes, and physicians. The site provides free hospital ratings for all states (5 star, 3 star, and 1 star), but BEWARE — this site may try to sell you information that you may find on other sites for free.

http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov/ U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Hospital Compare – A federal government comparison rating tool for heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, and surgical infection prevention. This is an excellent site because the government standardized its ratings for all hospitals, and most ratings are based on more than just Medicare patients. The site also includes patient satisfaction survey ratings and results for hospital inpatients across the U.S.

http://www.leapfroggroup.org/ The Leapfrog Group — Compares themselves with Consumer Reports — reporting overall health care quality and outcomes and the steps hospitals are taking to reduce preventable medical mistakes.

http://www.qualitycheck.org/consumer/ The Joint Commission-Quality Check® - Provides accreditation and comparison information for hospitals, home health/hospice, laboratories, some nursing homes & assisted living centers, and other health care services. Quality Check® lists both Joint Commission-accredited and health care organizations not accredited by the Joint Commission. Consumers can search by city and state, by name or by zip code.

http://www.100tophospitals.com/ Thomson Reuters Top 100 Hospitals — Each year Thomson Reuters names their Top 100 Hospitals evaluated on key measures of clinical, operational and financial performance. The company rates over 3,000 hospitals nationwide from which they select their top 100. Although the site lists the top 100 hospitals and their respective cites/states, consumers have to pay to see the actual ratings of the top 100 and all others that participated in the study.

http://health.usnews.com/sections/health/best-hospitals U.S. News and World Report’s Annual Hospital Rankings Report 2008 – Rigorously reviewed 5,453 hospitals nationwide — judging them not in routine procedures but in difficult cases across an entire specialty area. Hospitals were ranked in 16 specialties, from cancer and heart disease to respiratory disorders and urology.

Three Hospitals Serve the Coachella Valley

There are three major hospitals in the Coachella Valley that provide medical services for residents and visitors: Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, and JFK Memorial Hospital in Indio.

Since most ratings companies prohibit the reprinting of specific hospital scores and rankings from their sites, this author can only provide general observations regarding ratings/rankings of hospitals in the Coachella Valley. Consumers are urged, therefore, to spend time searching the various hospital ratings sites to view the specifics ratings on each of the three area hospitals, and then as discussed previously, use the findings as discussion points with their physicians and other medical personnel.

General Observations:

1. Although Eisenhower Medical Center reports receiving top awards in 2008 for Joint Replacement and Gastrointestinal Surgery in the state of California from one well recognized national rating company, the hospital didn’t rank among the top 50 best hospitals nationally in Orthopedics or Gastrointestinal Disorders in the U.S. News and World Report Best Hospitals Rankings for 2008. This is a good example of how ratings criteria and outcomes vary significantly with different companies.

2. On December 11, 2008, Leapfrog Group identified Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs as one of 13 hospitals nationally to receive the nation’s “Highest Value Hospitals” award based on a review of over 1,220 hospitals participating in the survey. It’s interesting to note that Eisenhower Medical Center, with all the awards reported on its Web site, did not receive the same distinction by Leapfrog.

3. Eisenhower Medical Center also reports receiving a top patient safety award from a well recognized national rating company in 2008, however, when reviewing the current Patient Safety Ratings from The Leapfrog Group, Desert Regional Medical Center was actually reported as showing the most progress (among the three Coachella Valley Hospitals) toward meeting standards in overall patient safety. In fact, the site reported that Eisenhower declined to respond in two categories of evaluation. Ratings in patient safety from the Cal Hospital Compare site rated John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital “superior” or “above-average” in all categories of Patient Safety whereas Eisenhower Medical Center reportedly declined to participate. This is another example of how information, ratings, and outcomes vary with different companies.

4. Using the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Hospital Compare site, JFK Memorial Hospital in Indio received the highest overall ratings among the three Coachella Valley Hospitals for Hospital Process of Care Measures defined as measures that show (in percentage or as a rate) how often a health care provider gives recommended care. Actually, this author has discovered that JFK has received excellent ratings in a number of categorical ratings — in some cases and categories exceeding the ratings of both Desert Regional and Eisenhower Medical Centers.

5. Upon visiting the Web sites for Desert Regional Medical Center, Eisenhower Medical Center, and J.F.K. Memorial Hospital, it becomes evident that Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage touts the most awards — most of which have been received from the same well known rating company over the past few years. After an extensive review of the literature and health care rating companies and rankings, this author must emphasize that these tools are merely a starting point for consumers to begin researching health care providers. They are, by no means, a guarantee of quality health care and in some cases significant inconsistencies in ratings raise a red flag that the results may be suspect — especially if providers are required to pay for the use of the ratings in promotions and publications.

Publisher’s Picks for Web Resources:

www.time.com/time/2008/health_care/ www.calhospital.org/Download/CHASpecialReport.pdf www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/insur200812.htm www.health.usnews.com/sections/health/best-hospitals www.calhospitalcompare.org/

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