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BWWMH earns high quality rating

Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital earned a three-star quality rating by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Five total stars are possible for a hospital to achieve.

Ratings are based on several measures of quality such as timely and effective care, the number of related complications and deaths, the number of unplanned return visits to the hospital, the use of medical imaging and the overall value of care based on the quality and the cost.

According to statistics on medicare.gov, BWWMH was at the national average in its measurements of mortality rates, readmission rates, timeliness for care and efficient use of medical imaging. The hospital was below the national average for effectiveness of care, and comparisons for safety of care and patient experiences were not available at the time of publication.

BWWMH CEO Doug Brewer said maintaining the hospital’s current quality levels while improving patient satisfaction could lead to a four-star rating next year.

“What I say to the staff here is we should be the best hospital in the country at what we do, and there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t be. A lot of our current quality indicators meet the requirements to say that,” he said.

However, he did say that some areas need improvement, and certain measures have been put in place to do just that. The Polished Stone award was introduced shortly after Brewer was named CEO in early 2018 to honor healthcare providers who exemplify the hospital’s new Brand Promises of ‘100 percent accountability, zero excuses and top-notch employee engagement.’

BWWMH ranks equal to seven other hospitals within a 100-mile radius such as Hale County Hospital in Greensboro and Greene County Hospital in Eutaw. Other nearby hospitals, such as DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Vaughan Regional Medical Center Parkway Campus in Selma and Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian received two-star ratings.

Within a 100-mile radius, the highest and only four-star rating belonged to Monroe County Hospital in Monroeville.

There have been concerns surrounding the methodology employed by CMS when rating hospitals since shortly after the first ratings were released in July 2016, when Dr. Darrel Kirch, president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, released a statement about the ratings warning that the system used by CMS does not consider “important differences in the patient populations and the complexity of conditions that teaching hospitals treat.”

That same month, Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, a Washington nonprofit, called the CMS ratings and the Hospital Compare website “a huge step forward.”

“The overall star ratings released today are based on more than 60 performance measures that were selected through a thoughtful, vigorous process that included input from diverse stakeholders, including consumers. The publication of these ratings is a step toward achieving the Triple Aim; we expect it to foster improvements in patient experiences with care and ultimately help make health care in this country more patient- and family-centered,” she said.

Kirch also reiterated his concerns in June 2018 in an interview with Modern Healthcare, saying that “More and more, it becomes clear that the hospitals that do best on the star ratings are the hospitals that don’t take care of the most complex cases. They are the hospitals that aren’t dealing with people whose socioeconomic status creates problems in their health and their follow-up.”

CMS updated its methodology to address these concerns and is currently accepting feedback until March 29 for more possible changes. To view the results of all hospitals rated by CMS, visit www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare. Hospital Compare publishes quality measures for over 4,000 Medicare-certified hospitals.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, March 13 issue of the Demopolis Times.)