In an effort to help people make informed health care decisions, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has launched some new web-based tools that will put more information about the quality of care delivered by health plans, hospitals, nursing homes, doctors and a host of other health care providers, into consumers’ hands.
“These tools are new ways CMS is making sure consumers have information about health care quality and important information they need to make the best decisions about where to receive high-quality care,” CMS Administrator Don Berwick, MD, states in a news release.
Here’s what the tools offer:
Quality Care Finder is an online platform where consumers can access all of Medicare’s “compare” tools. They are:
- Hospital Compare gives you access to hospital quality records based on Medicare data collected for five areas: heart attacks, heart failure, childhood asthma, pneumonia and surgical infections. CMS has now updated the web site to include new data on hospital outpatient surgery infection rates. The quality of outpatient treatment for those suspected of heart attacks is also available on the site.
- Nursing Home Compare lets you compare nursing homes by their five-star rating as well as by the quality of care each provides.
- Home Health Compare allows you to search for home health agencies by the type of services each provides, as well as each home’s quality-of- care record.
- Dialysis Facility Compare, as the name implies (and perhaps you’ve caught onto the pattern), offers quality information specific to dialysis facilities. You can also see precisely the types of services each facility provides.
- To find a doctor who accepts Medicare in your area and in the medical specialty you need, Physician Compare is a useful tool.
Finally, the Medicare Plan Finder tool allows you to search for and compare Medicare benefits and costs.
To further enhance the quality of care available to consumers, CMS last week also announced enhancements to its Quality Improvement Organization program, which provides technical assistance and resources to health care providers throughout the country. The goal of the program is to help providers make changes to the way in which patient care is delivered.
How concerned are you about the quality of hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers? Will you use these tools to help you make more informed decisions about where you seek health care?
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News release, CMS.