Monday, March 31, 2008

Federal agency debuts Web site that allows comparisons of hospital care and costs

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services unveiled a new Web site on Friday that allows consumers and journalists to compare hospitals based on patient satisfaction surveys, quality information and pricing information for specific procedures.

The Hospital Compare Web site draws information from the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Hospital Survey (HCAHPS). According to a news release, HCAHPS is the first national, standardized, publicly reported survey of patient perspectives on hospital care, and it includes information from more than 2,500 hospitals around the country.

“Medicare beneficiaries tell us that just like the information they receive about other products and services they consume, they want to know what their neighbors are saying about the care they received while in the hospital; they want to know how much it costs; and they want to know about the quality of that care. We are now sharing that information,” CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems said in a statement. “The nation’s hospitals and others who work with patients share our goal of improving the quality of care for all. Our quality improvement efforts include a wide-ranging set of tools and data to do just that.”

The Web site is fairly easy to use. Users can search for hospitals by name, city, county, zip code or state. Searches can also be narrowed based on the distance between a hospital and a given location. From there, users can search for information on specific surgical procedures or health problems. The result is a lot of good, clear data about how patients were treated from beginning to end, and how much Medicare covered.

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