FRIDAY, Jan. 10, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Hospitals caring for neighborhoods with high levels of disadvantage may have lower hospital ratings due to social risk factors (SRFs) in the community, according to a study published online Dec. 30 in Medical Care.

John Fahrenbach, Ph.D., from the Center for Healthcare Delivery Science and Innovation in Chicago, and colleagues examined the association between neighborhood SRFs and hospital ratings in the Medicare Hospital Compare Program. Data were included for 3,608 Medicare-certified hospitals in the 50 U.S. states.

The researchers observed associations for lower hospital summary scores with caring for neighborhoods with higher social risk, including a decrease in hospital score for every 10 percent of residents reporting dual eligibility for Medicare/Medicaid, no high school diploma, unemployment, black race, and high travel times to work (−3.3, −0.8, −1.2, −1.2, and −2.5 percent, respectively). The largest associations between neighborhood SRFs and hospital ratings were seen for timeliness of care, patient experience, and hospital readmission groups; the smallest associations were seen for safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of care groups.

“Implementation of hospital rating policies should explicitly consider the impact of neighborhood SRFs on specific quality measures to ensure sufficient funding for health equity in vulnerable communities,” the authors write.

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