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CMS launches dashboard of 8 healthcare compare tools under Care Compare

Patients can find information about doctors, hospitals and nursing homes without searching through multiple tools.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

This week the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services launched Care Compare, a streamlined redesign of eight existing CMS healthcare compare tools available on Medicare.gov

Care Compare provides a single, user-friendly interface that patients and caregivers can use to make decisions about healthcare based on cost, quality of care, volume of services and other data. Patients can find easy-to-understand information about doctors, hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare services without searching through multiple tools.

The announcement builds on the eMedicare initiative that was first launched by the Trump Administration in 2018 to deliver simple tools and information to current and future Medicare beneficiaries. 

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WHAT'S THE IMPACT?

Heeding research and stakeholder feedback, Care Compare includes features and functionalities that are geared to appeal to consumers. By offering a user-friendly interface and a simple design that is optimized for mobile and tablet use, Care Compare is intended to help find information that is important to patients when shopping for healthcare. Enhancements for mobile use will give practical benefits. For instance, accessing the tool using a smartphone can initiate phone calls to providers simply by clicking on the provider's phone number.

Currently, someone who is planning to have bypass surgery would need to visit Hospital Compare, Nursing Home Compare and Home Health Compare individually to research providers for the different phases of their surgery and rehabilitation. Now, those patients can start their search at Care Compare to find and compare providers that meet their healthcare needs. It includes information about quality measures across all provider types and care settings.

Patients will also find hints and guides throughout Care Compare. For example, when searching for a nursing home, patients have the ability to utilize a checklist with common questions and considerations when selecting a nursing home. 

While the measures and data used for Care Compare have not changed, the way information is displayed is now different. During a transition period, consumers and other stakeholders will be able to use the original eight compare tools while CMS continues to gather feedback and considers additional improvements to the tool. As new information about quality and cost are added to the compare tools, Care Compare will be updated to reflect that information.

WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW

In conjunction with the launch of Care Compare, additional improvements have been made to other CMS data tools to help Medicare beneficiaries compare costs. The Procedure Price Look Up tool, for example, now includes physician fees in addition to facility fees, offering people with Medicare a more accurate prediction of the true out-of-pocket costs.  

The Provider Data Catalog better serves innovators and stakeholders who are interested in detailed CMS data and use interactive and downloadable datasets like those currently available on data.Medicare.gov. The PDC now makes quality datasets available through an improved Application Programming Interface, allowing innovators in the field to easily access and analyze the CMS publicly reported data and make it useful for patients.

In addition, the PPL now makes data available through an API, and integrates Current Procedural Terminology code data from the American Medical Association.

Other new tools launched under the eMedicare initiative include: a completely redesigned Medicare Plan Finder Tool for last Open Enrollment; a "What's Covered" app that tells people what's covered and what's not in Original Medicare; a price transparency tool that lets consumers compare Medicare payments and copayments for certain procedures performed in both hospital outpatient departments and ambulatory surgical centers; interactive online decision support to help people better understand and evaluate their Medicare coverage options and costs between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage; an online service that lets people quickly see how different coverage choices will affect their estimated out-of-pocket costs; a web chat option in Medicare Plan Finder helps people get on-the-spot support; and easy-to-use surveys across Medicare.gov so patients and consumers can continue to offer feedback about their online experiences.

ON THE RECORD

"(A) free and vibrant healthcare market is one in which patients have what they need to make informed decisions based on cost and quality," said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. "By aggregating all eight of CMS' quality tools into a single interface, patients can easily research different providers and facilities before they entrust themselves to their care. Today's launch of Care Compare is the next step in fulfilling our eMedicare promise. Our administration is committed to ensuring our tools are robust and beneficial to patients."
 

Twitter: @JELagasse
Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com