En español | A streamlined Medicare online tool will make it easier for consumers to compare and choose their providers, including hospitals, doctors, nursing homes and other facilities, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Medicare is consolidating eight separate interactive websites that allow consumers to find providers based on geography, cost, professional experience, government ratings and other factors. Up to now, individual tools have covered doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, home health services, hospice care, inpatient rehabilitation services, long-term care hospitals and dialysis facilities.
Consolidating these sites into one “will give patients a better, cleaner and more convenient access to the information they need to make an informed choice about their provider on the basis of quality,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a Wednesday call with reporters to preview the new tool. “Patients will also find helpful features that guide them through the process, such as a checklist with common questions and considerations to keep in mind when selecting a nursing home.”
Verma also used the example of someone who needs cardiac bypass surgery. Before this upgrade, that patient might have to consult the separate tools for a physician, a hospital and home health services. “Now this patient can start and finish their research using Care Compare with a simple, user-friendly interface,” she said.
How to use the new Medicare Compare tool
A consumer who goes to medicare.gov/care-compare will be asked to put in a zip code or city, select the provider and begin a search. The site allows someone to compare up to three providers side by side using such criteria as how the facilities stack up based on a number of quality measures.
For example, the nursing home comparison tool provides 13 quality measures including how the facility scored on health inspections, staffing, quality of resident care, number of certified beds, whether it accepts Medicare and Medicaid, whether it’s a for-profit or nonprofit facility, and whether the nursing home is located in a hospital complex.
Verma said the eight separate Compare tools will remain in place during a transition period. A consumer who goes to one of the individual sites will also be provided with a link to the new consolidated site.