Jan 23, 2020

Making it Easier to Compare Providers and Care Settings on Medicare.gov

Seema Verma
Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Making it Easier to Compare Providers and Care Settings on Medicare.gov
CMS plans to improve online comparison tools to inform health care decisions

CMS has been a driving force behind public quality reporting on facility and clinician performance based on the premise that making this information available to the public will drive improvements to health care quality. We want to empower patients to select and access the right care from the right provider and are building on the President’s Executive Order to improve Medicare for our nation’s seniors. 

We are working on new improvements to Medicare.gov to help patients find health care providers in different settings across the care continuum. Later this year, CMS plans to launch a simplified and consistent online experience to make it easier for consumers to find and compare care, while also meeting the needs of industry stakeholders who search data that are important to them. These improvements build on past efforts under the eMedicare initiative, which aims to deliver customized information that beneficiaries want and need.   

Today, Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers use eight separate Compare tools (Hospital, Nursing Home, Home Health, Dialysis Facility, Long-term Care Hospital, Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility, Physician and Hospice) on Medicare.gov to find and compare doctors, hospitals and other health care providers. Although they are among the most popular and used sections of the Medicare website, each one functions independently with varying user interfaces that make them difficult to understand and challenging to navigate.

To meet the needs of today’s Medicare beneficiaries and improve the online Medicare customer experience, CMS plans to combine and standardize these eight existing Compare tools, allowing users to access the same information through a single point of entry and simplified navigation to find the information that is currently divided in places like Nursing Home Compare and Hospital Compare. The new “Medicare Care Compare” on Medicare.gov will offer Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers and other users a consistent look and feel, providing a streamlined experience to meet their individual needs in accessing information about health care providers and care settings. In the new, unified experience, patients will be able to easily find the information that is most important to help make health care decisions, like getting quality data by the type of health care provider.

We are also working to develop an improved companion portal that Medicare researchers and stakeholders can use to access the more detailed data that are important to them. This new “Provider Data Catalog” will reside on CMS.gov. It will have an improved interface and intuitive search features to allow users to easily search and download CMS’ publicly reported data, better serving stakeholders who use the interactive and downloadable datasets like those currently found on data.Medicare.gov. Importantly, all data sets will be made available via an Application Programming Interface (API) from the Provider Data Catalog.

Even though we’re making these enhancements, it doesn’t change our public reporting requirements, and we will continue to meet every reporting mandate. We’re planning to launch both “Medicare Care Compare” and the “Provider Data Catalog” this Spring, kicking off a transition period that allows the public to use them alongside the existing tools before we retire them.

We’re striving to anticipate the needs of Medicare beneficiaries, patients and stakeholders as we create these new comparison tools. In the coming weeks, we’ll be working with various stakeholders, including beneficiaries, patients and their advocates, health care groups, health care providers, researchers and the larger clinical community, to preview new features and gather feedback before the tools are completed and publicly launched. We’ll continue to make improvements leading up to and following the launch as part of our iterative improvement process and are committed to ensuring beneficiaries and other users have access to the accurate and useful comparison information they rely on.

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