Over the weekend, the Veterans Health Administration published the End of Year Hospital Star Rating for the 2017 Fiscal Year for VA medical centers. On this list, Big Spring, along with 13 other medical centers, was given a 1-star rating on Relative Performance on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest and 1 being the lowest.
It should be noted that this is the same West Texas VA Health Care System in Big Spring that earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval ® during an unannounced onsite survey in June of this year for Accreditation in Ambulatory Health Care, Behavioral Health Care and Home Care by demonstrating continuous compliance with its nationally recognized standards.
So…How could this be possible?
Well, there’s an important detail that is often overlooked when people review the ratings. Using the performance improvement tool called SAIL - Strategic Analytics for Improvement and Learning, each VA medical center is assessed for overall Quality from two perspectives: One being RELATIVE Performance COMPARED to other VA medical centers using a Star rating system from 1 to 5 and the second being Improvement COMPARED to its OWN performance from the past year.
The VA medical centers get rated every quarter based on 13 different indicators, but the results are only published once a year.
“Every quarter we can go up or down. For two quarters in 2016 we actually went up; we were two stars,” says Kalautie JangDhari, Director at the West Texas VA Health Care System.
So why aren’t they staying at a 2-star rating?
“There’s a whole bunch of things that go with it. As we’re improving, other facilities are trying to improve too. It’s a totally competitive environment. Every quarter that they give us our scores, every other facility that’s in my category is improving as well.”
Director JangDhari explained that if there’s another facility in same category that does a little bit better in any of the 13 indicators then it’s possible that this facility will advance to the next star-rating while the West Texas VA Health Care System will not advance.
Due to the fact that S.A.I.L. is meant to drive improvement within the VA medical centers there’s only a certain amount of facilities that can earn a 5-star rating.
The West Texas VA Health Care System serves 33 counties throughout 53,000 square miles with facilities in San Angelo, Abilene, the Permian Basin, Hobbs, New Mexico, and outreach clinics in Fort Stockton and Stamford. All 5 of these facilities and the 2 outreach clinics impact the rating that the West Texas VA Health Care System receives as a whole, even though on the publication from the Veterans Health Administration lists the facility as the Big Spring location.