Oct 20, 2020



The Importance of Hospital Quality as Patients Seek Elective Care

2020 has been a year unlike any other. While the COVID-19 pandemic remains top of mind, hospitals and healthcare systems are seeing a resurgence of volume from the lows that occurred in April. As patients return to care, it has never been more important for them to access information about the quality of their chosen hospital. Frankly, it can mean the difference between life and death, between a speedy recovery or experiencing a complication that extends the hospital stay.

The Healthgrades 2021 Report to the Nation analyzes the performance of nearly 4,500 hospitals as measured by risk-adjusted mortality and complication rates. The recent assessment of 32 of the most common procedures and conditions in the country shows that if all hospitals, as a group, performed similarly to 5-star rated hospitals, on average: 218,785 lives could potentially have been saved and complications in 148,681 patients could potentially have been avoided.*

This year’s report also takes a close look at several common “elective” procedures, those that were delayed, deferred, or canceled because of the pandemic. Healthgrades conducted an in-depth review of Joint Replacement, Back & Neck, Spinal Fusion, Gallbladder Removal, and Bariatric Surgeries. The report establishes the importance of quality and serves as a resource for patients who are scheduling their own elective-care procedures.

Our analysis looks at risk factors associated with outcomes in elective care, as well as the relative performance of 5-star hospitals vs 1- and 3-star hospitals and what that means for patients. Specifically, we answer:

  • What are the differences in outcomes when comparing hospitals?
  • What are the most significant and most frequent pre-existing medical conditions, or risk factors patients should be concerned about?
  • What are the most common complications associated with these procedures? 

The Healthgrades 2021 Specialty Excellence AwardsTM and ratings in this analysis can help inform where to seek the best care for a patient’s specific needs. At this moment where risk mitigation is of utmost importance, it’s imperative to know how a specific hospital performs for the care an individual needs. See the list of 2021 Award recipients.

During these unprecedented times, a continued focus on quality and quality improvement is more critical than ever. We have supplemented this analysis with firsthand feedback from hospital and health system leaders working to get patients safely back to needed care and what they are doing to deliver the highest quality care.

Read the 2021 Report to the Nation: A Safe Return To Quality Care.

*Statistics are based on Healthgrades analysis of MedPAR data for years 2017 through 2019 and represent 3-year estimates for Medicare patients only.