The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings for the nation’s hospitals to make it easier for people to compare hospital quality. Hospitals received ratings from one to five stars – with five stars being the highest score – based on how well they perform on a range of inpatient and outpatient quality measures. Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast was one out of only two hospitals in the region to receive the five-star rating.

“We are honored to be recognized as one of the nation’s highest quality healthcare facilities,” said Roger Hall, president of Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast. “We will continue raising the bar for healthcare in our region and strive to provide excellent care to our patients in a safe, compassionate, environment.”

The newly updated Star Ratings methodology takes 59 quality measures reported on CMS’ Hospital Compare website and condenses all the data into a single rating on a scale of one to five stars. The 59 measures tracked by CMS include death rates, safety, readmissions, infection rates, patient experience ratings, and timeliness of care, among others.

According to CMS, the ratings are a step forward to transparency since they are based on publicly available data that “drive improvement, better reporting and more direct access to quality information for our Medicare beneficiaries.” The health agency also says consumers “should consider a variety of factors when choosing a hospital, such as physician guidance about your care plan and other sources of information about hospitals in your area.”

The overall star ratings, which will be updated quarterly, apply to 4,573 hospitals of varying sizes. Scores for the current rankings are broken down as follows nationally:

293 (7.87%) hospitals received five stars,

1,086 (29.15%) hospitals received four stars,

1,264 (33.93%) hospitals received three stars,

800 (21.48%) hospitals received two stars,

282 (7.57%) hospitals received one star

Only nine hospitals in Florida, including Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf in Port St. Joe, received five-star ratings.