Mar 13, 2023

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Finding the Nation’s Top Hospitals for Patient Experience

Each year, Healthgrades recognizes hospitals around the country that go above and beyond for patients during their hospital stay with the Outstanding Patient Experience Award™. This year’s award recipients represent the top 15% of hospitals evaluated across 10 key experience measures. 

But what goes into achieving an Outstanding Patient Experience Award?

If you’re a scientific type and want to read all the details of why our methodology is the most rigorous (and impartial), you can read the full methodology. Otherwise, keep reading for an overview on how the process works.

Behind the numbers

To get a quick overview of how we rate hospitals, let’s start by looking at the data behind the results.

Healthgrades’ overall patient experience scoring methodology is based on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) patient survey data, which is made available through the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).* 

The HCAHPS questionnaire is a 29-question survey sent to a random sample of hospital patients between 48 hours and six weeks post-discharge. The goal of the HCAHPS survey is to collect information about patients’ perspectives on the care they received while in the hospital in a way that allows for objective, meaningful comparison of hospitals. Healthgrades uses HCAHPS data for several reasons, including: 

  • HCAHPS survey responses come from a representative sample of patients at each hospital
  • The survey is a standardized data collection tool and methodology for measuring patient experience
  • HCAHPS survey data allows for objective and meaningful comparisons of hospitals locally, regionally, and nationally

Healthgrades’ patient experience scoring guide

Healthgrades uses HCAHPS survey responses to 19 questions related to hospital care to form the 10 key patient experience measures at the heart of Healthgrades’ patient experience scoring methodology:

  1. Overall rating – How do patients rate the hospital overall? 
  2. Recommendation to family/friends – Would patients recommend the hospital to family and friends?
  3. Communication with doctors – How often did doctors communicate well with patients? 
  4. Communication with nurses – How often did nurses communicate well with patients?
  5. Responsiveness of hospital staff – How often did patients receive help quickly from hospital staff? 
  6. Communication about medicines – How often did staff explain medicines before giving them to patients?
  7. Cleanliness – How often were the patients’ rooms and bathrooms kept clean?
  8. Quietness – How often was the area around patients’ rooms kept quiet at night?
  9. Discharge information – Were patients given information about what to do during their recovery at home? 
  10. Care transition – How well did hospital staff communicate to patients about their health and care needs as they were leaving the hospital?

For the overall rating question, patients respond using a scale of 1 to 10, from worst to best. Healthgrades then compares the percentage of patients who gave their hospital a high overall rating (9 or 10) to the national average of patients who rated their hospital highly. 

For the recommendation to family/friends question, patients respond in four ways: “definitely yes”, “probably yes”, “probably no”, or “definitely no”. The percentage of patients at a given hospital who respond “definitely yes” is then compared to the national average of patients who respond “definitely yes”. 

There are four response options for the remaining questions: “never”, “sometimes”, “usually”, and “always”. The percentage of patients who answer “always” is compared to the national average of patients who respond with “always”.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for a 2023 Outstanding Patient Experience Award, a hospital must be in the top 80% for clinical quality and provide at least 75 HCAHPS surveys to CMS. 

Methodology simplified

To determine the recipients of the 2023 Outstanding Patient Experience Award, Healthgrades groups eligible hospitals into four categories and creates standardized patient experience scores. 

Healthgrades follows a four-step process to identify the top 15% of hospitals for patient experience:

  1. Group eligible hospitals into four categories: Group hospitals into four categories based on the bed count and the number of conditions and procedures evaluated by Healthgrades.
  2. Create z-scores for each HCAHPS measure: Create a z-score for each HCAHPS measure at each hospital to accurately compare a hospital’s performance in a given area to the average for all hospitals within each group. Nine of the 10 HCAHPS have three possible answers indicating positive, neutral, and negative responses: “always”, “usually”, or “sometimes”/ “never”). For these nine questions, Healthgrades disregards neutral responses and creates two different z-scores to represent positive and negative responses. For the discharge information question, which involves “yes” and “no” responses, Healthgrades creates a single z-score to represent positive responses only.
  3. Create an overall patient experience score: Create an overall patient experience score for each hospital by calculating the weighted average of the 19 HCAHPS z-scores. Two measures–overall rating and recommendation to family/friends– receive more weight during the weighting process (25% each). All other scores are weighted equally and account for the remaining 50%.
  4. Identify the recipients of the Outstanding Patient Experience Award for 2023: List hospitals from each category from highest to lowest based on overall patient experience score. The top 15% of hospitals with the highest scores in their respective categories are designated as Outstanding Patient Experience Award recipients.

Why Hospital Quality Matters

When it comes to choosing healthcare, quality saves lives, which is why Healthgrades is committed to delivering the most scientifically accurate and comprehensive information about doctors and hospitals — with data insights not available anywhere else. By offering easy access to data-driven hospital ratings, Healthgrades connects consumers with the healthcare professionals and hospitals who are right for their care needs.

For more information about how Healthgrades rates hospitals or to discuss how your hospital can promote your achievements, contact us at full methodology.

*Healthgrades evaluated 3,138 hospitals that submitted at least 75 patient experience surveys to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), covering admissions from January 2021 to December 2021. Hospitals in the bottom 20% for overall clinical quality were excluded from consideration.