Gary Passama

Gary Passama retired as president and CEO of NorthBay Healthcare on March 31, 2017. An active blogger since 2010, here’s a collection of his work.

Beware the Ratings

February 25, 2016
Within the past month, NorthBay Healthcare’s two hospitals were awarded, by one particularly successful for-profit rating company, the designation of “Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical Excellence.” They say we rate in the top 5 percent of hospitals for the care we provide.

According to the rating company, patients in our two hospitals have, on average, a lower risk of dying than if they were treated in hospitals that did not receive the designation.

We provide great care at NorthBay and I am very proud of that. I’m not surprised we made this list and many others. It’s just that I’m no fan of lists when it comes to hospitals.

I have written before about the dubious nature of various rating systems which purport to competently evaluate hospitals and physicians. I have noted the opaque methodologies used in the ratings. More importantly, and dubious, are the attempts by these ratings purveyors to monetize their product by charging hospitals and doctors if they wish to advertise their rating results.

I just don’t trust most rating systems. So in lieu of paying the rating company a fee so we could advertise their rating, we simply put a story about it on Page 14 of our latest employee newsletter.

I have two more recent examples of why such ratings should be taken with a grain of salt. 

Last week, a teenager in Florida was arrested for the second time in a year for pretending to be a physician. This time he set up an office and was seeing patients. The first time he was caught making rounds in a local hospital. He should be dating or stealing hubcaps.

The real story here is that this teenager was given the highest physician rating possible by the same company that issued those hospital ratings last month. He was considered a five-star doctor!

Medical school is so overrated.

My final example has to do with a LinkedIn reposting done by Rulon Stacey, chairman of the Board of Overseers of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, which goes to organizations in all fields who consistently demonstrate the highest level of quality performance.

Rulon has a connection to NorthBay Healthcare. Many years ago, he served a one-year administrative residency at NorthBay Medical Center. He then went on to become a nationally known leader in health care and in quality performance.

On LinkedIn recently, Rulon posted the following:
“With Mark Chasin, MD, from The Joint Commission talking about quality measures. He said that Healthgrades, Leapfrog and US News are all invalid measures of quality. Kudos to him for speaking out. We all have known that US News is worthless … but we still broadcast when we are recognized! They sell magazines … so it is a success for them … but misleading for everyone else. Refreshing to hear him be so open and validate what we already knew!”

Beware the ratings.


  1. December 06, 2016 at 12:00

    As a Type 1 Diabetic, I am a frequent visitor to hospitals, clinics, labs, etc. I was surprised to hear honest evaluation of ratings services by a hospital CEO. It shows a refreshing honesty at the top for NorthBay Healthcare. Perhaps this adds to the reason that NorthBay Healthcare is doing well within an industry that favors large conglomerates (Kaiser, Sutter). I hope NorthBay is a part of the competitive field of Employee benefits; a great option for employees. I am working with the Mayo Health Minute on our stations and was glad to see that NorthBay Healthcare are partners with the Mayo Clinic. Thank you for this article. Tess

  2. Fred Morin
    March 22, 2016 at 10:44

    I totally agree. Ratings, surveys can be very inaccurate and misleading.

  3. Rulon Stacey
    March 02, 2016 at 07:24

    Thanks for the shout-out Gary!!! I totally agree with you! the end...I owe it all to you and NorthBay! :) :)


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