Medicare

Medicare has online tool to compare nursing homes, doctors

Suppose you or a loved one needed to get cardiac bypass surgery. Wouldn’t it be useful to be able to consult one online tool to find and evaluate a surgeon and hospital as well as a nursing home and home health services for rehabilitation after this surgery?

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is betting the answer is yes.

Last month, CMS unveiled Care Compare, a streamlined redesign of eight existing CMS healthcare compare tools available on Medicare.gov.

Care Compare aims to give Medicare patients and family caregivers a user-friendly online tool to make informed decisions about healthcare based on location, cost, quality of care, volume of services, and other data, and the site is compatible for use on smartphone and tablets.

Patients can find information in eight areas: doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, home health, dialysis centers, long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation and hospice groups.

“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.” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma, in announcing the new tool. The goal, she said is “ensuring the tools are robust and beneficial to patients.”

The consolidation could also boost patient awareness.

Emma Boswell Dean, assistant professor of Health Management and Policy at University of Miami’s Miami Herbert Business School, said before Care Compare, the tools were somewhat underutilized separately. “In talking to Medicare patients, they don’t even know all the tools available. Bringing them together in one tool is a really smart idea.”

Still, Dean and other experts gave Care Compare mixed reviews. While all agreed the amount of information available is important and deep, some said the tool could be easier to manipulate for seniors, while others question aspects of the underlying data. However, they all

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