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Our Rating Process
For 7 years the Maine Health Management Coalition Foundation has been publishing quality data. During that time, the quality of health care delivered in Maine has improved. In fact, according to the latest information published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (a part of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services) Maine had the greatest improvement in measured health care quality of any state in the nation. Maine currently ranks 3rd best overall in the U.S. in health care quality (up from 10th the year before).1 We believe publishing quality ratings over these years has contributed to the improvements in Maine.
Health care in Maine can be even better; however, we all need to be part of the improvement. If you want to receive and promote high quality medical care you should select a doctor or hospital of the highest quality, and follow their direction. You should also speak up and ask questions. Finally, we ask that you offer your comments and suggestions about this website to us so we too can improve.
Doctors who treat adults, voluntarily submit clinical information to Bridges to Excellence and/or the National Committee on Quality Assurance. These organizations in turn conduct assessments and generate rankings regarding the quality of the care being provided. The participating adult doctors and cardiologists or heart doctors may also submit information about the tools they use in maintaining and transferring medical information, and assisting their patients. Bridges to Excellence and the National Committee on Quality Assurance are independent, non-profit organizations that publish information about how well doctors and their staffs across the U.S. are doing at taking care of their patients. Once a ranking is given it remains valid for two to three years.
Doctors who treat children (pediatricians) also voluntarily submit clinical information to us. Because there is no national organization that performs assessments or rankings of pediatricians, we developed our own quality assessment program. In developing our assessment program we held forums of local doctors, patients, employers and health plan representatives and thereby determined what questions to ask and how to assign our ratings. Furthermore; we periodically conduct random telephonic and on-site audits of practices to help assure that our participants are honestly and accurately submitting their information.
From time to time we may raise the bar regarding what constitutes a “good”, “better” or in the case of office systems a “best” rating. When we do that, we give the doctors ample notice that their ranking could change if they do not make improvements.
When national programs become available for doctors who treat children, heart problems and bone and joints we will work to use them instead of our own surveys.
For a more detailed description of the metrics that contribute to our doctor, pediatrician, orthopedist and cardiologist ratings, please review our Adult Practice Rating Methodology and Pediatric Practice Rating Methodology.
Almost all U.S. hospitals give data to the federal government about how well they provide that care which the experts recommend. Patients also fill out surveys about their hospital experiences and those survey results are submitted to the federal government. You can see this data at www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov. Our ratings use this data to compare Maine’s hospitals to those in the remainder of the United States. We receive updates from the federal government every three months and update our information accordingly.
In Maine, every hospital also reports information voluntarily to the Leapfrog Group. The Leapfrog Group is an independent not-for-profit organization that collects, analyzes, and publicly reports information on the progress of hospitals to meet evidence-based quality and safety standards. Leapfrog fields an annual hospital survey that is based on the quality and safety recommendations of the National Quality Forum, The Joint Commission, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. All of these organizations work to improve the quality of health care by developing standardized methods for assessing health system performance. To learn more about the Leapfrog Hospital Survey click here.
Because of the importance of protecting patients from serious medication errors, we developed our own Medication Safety Survey. A team of hospital pharmacists and nurses developed the questions to ask and how to assign ratings. The tool they came up with is called the Medication Spotlight Survey. The idea is to assess the systems hospitals have in place to prevent medication errors and insure the effectiveness of medication therapy. If you have any questions about the information, please contact the hospital.
When national programs become available to measure the use of medication tools and procedures in hospitals, we will work to use them instead of our own survey.
For a more detailed description of the metrics that contribute to our hospital ratings, please review our Hospital Rating Methodology.
How often is our data updated?
For a detailed chart of when our hospital ratings are updated and where our data comes from click
Are there other places on the internet where I can find quality information?
There are a few places on the internet where you can find reliable quality information. The US Department of Health and Human Services' website, www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov, and the Commonwealth Fund's website, www.whynotthebest.org each offer some valuable information that may help you to make more informed healthcare choices.
1 Click HERE for AHRQ's State Snapshot methodology