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Healthgrades has announced the 2024 recipients of the Patient Safety Excellence and Outstanding Patient Experience Awards. Tom Werner/Getty Images
  • Healthgrades has announced the winners of the 2024 Patient Safety Excellence Awards and the 2024 Outstanding Patient Experience Awards.
  • The awards for patient safety recognize hospitals nationwide that offer high quality care while preventing serious safety events during hospital stays.
  • The awards for patient experience honor hospitals that offer overall best-in-class patient experiences.

Finding a hospital or healthcare center that provides high quality care can sometimes be challenging. Furthermore, your choice of healthcare provider can often make the difference between a positive or negative health outcome.

To help make this process easier, Healthgrades has announced the recipients of the 2024 Patient Safety Excellence Awards and the 2024 Outstanding Patient Experience Awards.

The awards for safety recognize hospitals nationwide that offer high quality care “while preventing serious safety events during hospital stays,” while the patient experience awards honor hospitals that offer overall best-in-class patient experiences, according to a press release.

Healthgrades revealed that only 79 hospitals received designations from both awards.

When asked how impactful these national hospital rankings are for people seeking care, Brad Bowman, MD, chief medical officer and head of data science at Healthgrades, told Healthline they are “essential” in finding the right care.

“Patient safety — avoiding medical complications — is very important, especially for serious or life threatening conditions and procedures,” Bowman said. “For more routine services, patient experience and satisfaction is very important. Each individual patient prioritizes safety and experience differently based on their personal medical history, experience, and current healthcare needs.”

He added that Healthgrades reports these measures separately so that prospective patients can “apply their own weighting and find the medical centers and healthcare providers that best meet their own unique needs.”

The Healthgrades Patient Safety Excellence Award honored 444 hospitals, which marks the top 10% of all hospitals that were assessed, according to the release. The hospitals awarded in this category provided quality care at the same time as “preventing serious injuries during hospital stays.”

Healthgrades reports that American hospitals could have avoided “97,000 patient safety events” from 2020 to 2022 had they reached the same standards and threshold of safety as the hospitals that made this current list.

To award hospitals in this list, Healthgrades analyzed MedPAR data from nearly 4,500 hospitals from 2020 through 2022 — pointing to three-year estimates for patients on Medicare.

The awards assess hospital performance spanning 13 patient safety indicators (PSIs) — each one indicates a “serious potentially preventable complication.”

Healthgrades states that hospitals eligible for the awards must “have zero instances in which a foreign object was left behind during a procedure, and have data on at least seven out of eight core PSIs.”

Four PSIs make up almost 75% of all “patient safety events” in a hospital. These include falls in the hospital that lead to fractures, collapsed lungs as a result of a procedure or surgery in or around a person’s chest, bed and pressure sores someone got while in a hospital, as well as bloodstream infections tied to a catheter.

Healthgrades found that people who received care at awarded hospitals were 52% less likely to experience an in-hospital fall that resulted in a fracture, 56% less likely to have a collapsed lung due to a procedure or surgery in or around their chest, 67% less likely to acquire bed or pressure sores during a hospital stay, and 71% less likely to have catheter-related bloodstream infections than those who were treated at non-awarded hospitals.

In order to evaluate the recipients of the 2024 Outstanding Patient Experience Award, the Healthgrades team examined data from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) patient survey. Healthgrades examined 2,575 hospitals that submitted at least 100 of these patient surveys to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The time period covered here includes hospital admissions from January 2022 to December 2022. The release states that hospitals that fell in the bottom 20% for overall clinical quality were not considered for awards.

Healthgrades examined data from 10 experience measures to pinpoint the overall patient experience throughout short-term and acute care visits.

They awarded 388 hospitals this year, which are in the top 15% of eligible hospitals nationwide.

Healthgrades states that doctor communication, nurse communication, and clear communication about care when discharged stand as “the three patient experience ratings that best predict whether a patient will recommend a hospital to friends and family.”

When asked if anything has changed in the methodology behind these awards compared to the past year, Bowman said that “there have only been minor changes made to the Patient Experience and Patient Safety methodology that should not significantly impact award recipients.”

When asked to put these kinds of rankings in the greater context, Robert Bonar, Dr.H.A., the Gordon A. Friesen Professor of Healthcare Administration at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, told Healthline that the inherent complexity of the medical care system in the United States can make everything from finding the right doctor to choosing the optimal hospital or clinic incredibly hard. It puts a lot of pressure on the patient.

“Those of us making critical healthcare decisions are typically not highly trained in the field of healthcare or medicine and we frequently have to make healthcare decisions while under duress, experiencing fear for our health or that of loved ones, perhaps while we are in pain, or worried about our financial futures,” said Bonar, who is unaffiliated with Healthgrades.

“This all makes healthcare decisions much more confusing and stressful than other decisions. Therefore, it makes sense that anything that we can reasonably do to increase healthcare consumer literacy should be a good thing. Rankings like those offered by Healthgrades should be able to assist healthcare consumers in making better decisions for themselves and their loved ones,” Bonar added.

John McHugh, PhD, MBA, assistant professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, said that these kinds of rankings can be helpful, but they also rely on the individual’s ability to access this information and use it to make an informed decision about the care they’re seeking.

“For a patient that has an option to choose a hospital and is mobile — i.e. can leave their immediate market to access care — then they can use rankings like this for elective procedures, but it is obviously harder to do this in an emergency. Also, we are still at the point where a lot of this information applies only to commercially insured patients because they are more likely to be able to act on it,” McHugh, who is also unaffiliated with Healthgrades, told Healthline.

“A lot of decision-making in seeking care is still done through referrals from doctors and is based on location and convenience versus any rankings that are often hard to interpret and, therefore, hard to incorporate into the decision calculus,” he added.

To help make sense of all of this, rankings like those provided by Healthgrades can help filter the many choices available.

Bowman said you should consider “both the experience and expertise” of their providers “and the clinical outcomes of a hospital for their specific medical condition or procedure” when deciding where to receive healthcare.

“Healthgrades brings both of these critical pieces of information together in one place to help patients easily find the care that is best for them,” he said.

Bonar added that you should look to sources of health information that “work hard to base their recommendations on statistically sound outcomes, measurable data, complication rates — including surgical infection rates — and morbidity and mortality data.”

For the complete awards list check out the 2024 Patient Safety Excellence Award and 2024 Outstanding Patient Experience Award lists at the Healthgrades website.

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