FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 7, 2010
Contact: HHS Press Office
Important New Data Added to Healthcare.gov to Help Americans Understand the State of Quality at America's Hospitals
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Hospital Compare Tool Compares Outpatient Care and Inpatient Mortality and Readmissions at More Than 4,700 Hospitals Across the Nation
Important new information about the quality of care available in America’s outpatient and emergency departments, including how well hospitals care for patients with heart attacks and protect outpatients from surgical infections was added to the new HHS website HealthCare.gov. The information can be found as part of the Compare Care Quality link on the front page of the new site, http://www.healthcare.gov/compare/index.html. It can also be found on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Hospital Compare website, www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov.
“The more information consumers and patients have, the better the options and choices are for them when it comes to their health care. HealthCare.gov is designed to put the power of information at the fingertips of Americans and our quality compare tools are a critical part of this new website,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "This new update to CMS’ Hospital Compare feature will help patients and their families better compare quality at America’s hospitals. And thanks to this new update this year, for the first time, Medicare patients can see how efficiently facilities use certain types of imaging equipment and keep them safe from exposure to potentially harmful radiation that may not be necessary.”
“By reporting data on services provided in hospital settings like imaging on Hospital Compare, we can highlight the importance of this issue for patients and their families,” said Acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “For some time, Medicare beneficiaries have had access to reasonable and necessary imaging technologies, which have revolutionized how well doctors and patients diagnose and treat a host of diseases. But by adding information to the website today, we can help patients and their families to understand the risks associated with these technologies and talk with their doctors about which hospitals are most likely to help patients reduce those risks.”
On average, 1 in 3 Medicare beneficiaries receive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of their lower back when they complain of pain, rather than trying more recommended – and potentially safer – treatment first, such as physical therapy. While most practitioners use imaging technology, such as MRI, safely and effectively to diagnose or treat disease, studies show that overusing MRIs for lower back pain could cause patients unnecessary stress, risk, and cost. In other cases, such as computed tomography (CT) scans, imaging technology exposes patients to the radiation used to produce these images, which means that overuse could harm patients’ health. The data published on Hospital Compare for these new imaging measures are based on claims for Medicare patients only.
The updated information on HealthCare.gov’s Hospital Compare includes data on the rates of outpatient MRIs for low back pain, outpatient re-tests after a screening mammogram, as well as two ratios that explain how frequently outpatient departments gave patients “double” computed tomography (CT) scans when a single scan may be all that is needed. Hospital Compare also includes new measures that show whether outpatients who are treated for suspected heart attacks receive proven therapies that reduce mortality such as an aspirin at arrival, and how well outpatient surgical patients are protected from infection. Previously, Hospital Compare had provided data only about the quality of care provided to hospital inpatients.
“Adding outpatient quality measures to Hospital Compare will give consumers a more complete picture of the quality of care available at local hospitals,” said Barry M. Straube, M.D., CMS chief medical officer and director of the Agency’s Office of Clinical Standards & Quality. “In particular, the heart attack and surgical care outpatient measures can be viewed alongside of the inpatient data we already report for these conditions, thus providing a comprehensive look at what facilities in your area are doing to provide high-quality, high-value care.”
In addition to outpatient care measures, CMS has updated data for outcomes of inpatient hospital care. Today’s update includes new thirty-day mortality rates and thirty-day readmissions rates for inpatients admitted with heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia. These rates encompass three full years of claims data (from July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2009).
This year, national thirty-day mortality rates for heart attack have continued to decline, falling by 0.4 percent from the 2005-2008 rate of 16.6 percent to 16.2 percent. Mortality rates for heart failure and pneumonia readmissions stayed steady at 11.2 and 11.6 percent, respectively.
Also this year, national thirty-day readmissions rates for heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia did not show remarkable changes from their 2005-2008 rates. The 2006-2009 rates for these three conditions are 19.9 percent, 24.7 percent, and 18.3 percent, respectively. Both sets of inpatient measures are risk-adjusted and take into account previous health problems to “level the playing field” among hospitals and to help ensure accuracy in performance reporting.
The HealthCare.gov Hospital Compare tool will show whether a hospital’s mortality or readmissions rate is “Better than,” “No different from,” or “Worse than” the U.S. national rate. This information includes each hospital’s risk-standardized mortality rate (RSMR), an estimate of the rate’s certainty (also known as the interval estimate), and the number of eligible cases for each hospital. By posting hospital RSMRs, interval estimates, and the number of eligible cases, CMS is giving consumers and communities additional insight into the performance of their local hospitals in hopes that this will prompt all hospitals to work toward achieving the level of the top-performing hospitals in the country.
Hospital Compare also includes 10 measures that capture patient satisfaction with hospital care. After two years of reporting these satisfaction measures, hospitals have shown modest but meaningful improvement on most satisfaction measures. The degree of this improvement has been relatively uniform across most measures and hospitals.
Hospital Compare is rounded out with 25 process of care measures and three children’s asthma care measures. The site also features information about the volume of certain hospital procedures performed and conditions treated for Medicare patients and what Medicare pays for those services.
The information contained on HealthCare.gov and Hospital Compare is available for consumers to use in making health care decisions. However, consumers should gather information from multiple sources when choosing a hospital. For example, patients and caregivers could use the website to help them discuss plans of care with their trusted health care providers. In an emergency situation, patients should always go to the nearest, most easily accessible facility.
Consumers have relied on Hospital Compare since 2005 to provide information about the quality of care provided in over 4,700 of America’s acute-care, critical access and children’s hospitals.
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Last revised: May 7, 2011