December 2016 preview: Increased transparency and quality information via new Compare sites and data updates

By: Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, CMS Acting Principal Deputy Administrator and Chief Medical Officer and Kate Goodrich, M.D., M.H.S., Director, Center for Clinical Standards & Quality, CMS
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) continues to work diligently to make health care quality information more transparent and understandable for consumers. At CMS, one of our top priorities is to help individuals make informed health care decisions for themselves or their loved ones based on objective measures of quality. The CMS Compare websites are reliable sources of information where individuals can compare the quality of health care providers, facilities, and health plans, highlighting that people have a choice in their care.
Here’s a brief overview of some important new updates to CMS Compare websites:
Launching Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Compare and Long-Term Care Hospital Compare websites
Today, as part of our continuing commitment to greater data transparency, CMS unveiled new Compare websites for both Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRFs) and Long-Term Care Hospitals (LTCHs). IRFs are free standing rehabilitation hospitals and rehabilitation units in acute care hospitals (and critical access hospitals). They provide intensive rehabilitation services using an interdisciplinary team approach.  LTCHs are certified as acute‑care hospitals, but focus on patients who, on average, stay more than 25 days and need extended hospital-level care. Many of the patients in LTCHs are transferred there from an intensive or critical care unit.
Under the Affordable Care Act, both IRFs and LTCHs are required to report quality data to CMS on a number of quality measures and health outcomes. These new tools take this data and put it into a format that can be used more readily by the public to get a snapshot of the quality of care each hospital provides. For instance, these tools will help families compare some key quality metrics, such as pressure ulcers and readmissions, for over 1,100 IRFs and 420 LTCHs across the nation. Specifically, the following quality measures will be reported on the new Compare sites for IRFs and LTCHs, respectively:
IRFs

  • Percent of Residents or Patients with Pressure Ulcers that are New or Worsened (Short Stay) (National Quality Forum #0678)
  • All-Cause Unplanned Readmission Measure for 30 Days Post-Discharge From Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (National Quality Forum #2502)

LTCHs

  • Percent of Residents or Patients with Pressure Ulcers That Are New or Worsened (Short Stay) (National Quality Forum #0678)
  • All-Cause Unplanned Readmission Measure for 30 Days Post-Discharge from Long-Term Care Hospital (National Quality Forum #2512)

These websites reflect current industry best practices for consumer-facing websites and will be optimized for mobile use. Visit https://www.medicare.gov/inpatientrehabilitationfacilitycompare/ and https://www.medicare.gov/longtermcarehospitalcompare/ to view the new Compare sites.
For more information on IRFs and LTCHs, visit the IRF Quality Public Reporting and the LTCH Quality Public Reporting webpages.
Other CMS Compare websites include: Hospital Compare; Physician Compare; Nursing Home Compare; Medicare Plan Finder; Dialysis Compare; and Home Health Compare.
Hospice Care Quality Data
National averages of the quality measure scores of Medicare-certified hospices will be available soon on the Hospice Data Directory on data.medicare.gov. National average data will be available for two quality of care datasets – the Hospice Item Set (HIS) and the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) Hospice Survey. The HIS reflects provider performance on the seven National Quality Forum-endorsed quality measures from July 2015 through June 2016. The CAHPS® Hospice Survey scores are calculated from survey responses that reflect care experiences of informal caregivers (i.e., family members or friends) of patients who died while in hospice care from April 2015 through March 2016.
Hospice Compare will be available in summer 2017.
For more information, visit the Hospice Quality Reporting webpage.
Hospital Compare Updates
After releasing the Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating for the Hospital Compare website in July, we will be updating that overall data to reflect refreshed measure data. This update includes a refresh of the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems (HCAHPS) data; five new oncology care measures that were added to the Prospective Payment System-Exempt Cancer Hospital Reporting Program; and the addition of a readmission after coronary artery bypass graft surgery measure to Hospital Readmission Reduction Program. In addition to other new measures, and the removal of several measures from Hospital CompareVeterans Health Administration (VHA) data is now available on data.medicare.gov.
Physician Compare Update and Redesign
Finally, CMS will also be adding new quality data and other information to the Physician Compare website. As part of a phased approach to public reporting, CMS is now preparing to include a significantly larger and more diverse set of quality information for group practices, individual clinicians, and Accountable Care Organizations on the Physician Compare website. This will help people with Medicare coverage to better evaluate data for more group practices and clinicians across a range of specialties.
Additionally, CMS will be releasing a new user-focused redesign of Physician Compare. The look and feel will be similar to the newly launched IRF Compare and LTCH Compare websites.
The redesign is based on extensive consumer testing and reflects current industry best practices for consumer-facing websites to make them more user friendly and intuitive. The website will be more streamlined and also be optimized for mobile use.

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Consumers have many options when choosing a health care provider. Providers vary in the quality of the care they give, and everyone wants to choose the provider who will be best for themselves or their loved ones. Yet frequently the choice must be made quickly and without the time for consumers to locate and review a wide range of information sources. Our goal with these Compare websites is to provide the public with information that they can use when making important decisions about care.
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