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Hospital Quality Initiative - Hospital Compare

Guidance for a consumer-oriented website that provides information on how well hospitals provide recommended care to their patients.


Issued by: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

Issue Date: October 19, 2016

Hospital Care Compare and Provider Data Catalog

Now available! Our Provider Data Catalog makes it easier for you to search & download our publicly reported data. We’ve also improved Medicare’s compare sites.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the nation’s hospitals work collaboratively to publicly report hospital quality performance information on Care Compare on and the Provider Data Catalog.

Hospital Care Compare displays hospital performance data in a consistent, unified manner to ensure the availability of credible information about the care delivered in the nation’s hospitals. The hospitals displayed on Care Compare are generally limited to Acute Care Hospitals, Acute Care Veteran’s Hospitals, Department of Defense Hospitals, Critical Access Hospitals, and Children’s Hospitals. Only data from Medicare-certified hospitals are included on Care Compare. Most of the participants are short-term acute care hospitals that will receive a reduction to the annual update of their Medicare fee-for-service payment rate if they do not participate by submitting data or meet other requirements of the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) Program and the Hospital Outpatient Reporting (OQR) Program. The Hospital IQR Program was established by Section 501(b) of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 and extended and expanded by Section 5001(a) of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. The Hospital OQR Program was mandated by the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006.

Care Compare on currently provides quality measure information on:

  • Process of care measures are measures that show whether or not a health care provider gives recommended care based on guidelines, standards of care or practice parameters; that is, the treatment known to give the best results for most patients with a particular condition. These measures convert patient medical record information into percentages and/or rates of performance. Providing this information allows consumers to compare the performance of a health care provider to other providers in their state and the nation.
  • Outcome measures are measures designed to reflect the results of care, rather than whether or not a specific treatment or intervention was performed.
  • Patient experience of care is measured by a national, standardized survey of hospital patients about their experiences during a recent inpatient hospital stay. This is also referred to as HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems).
  • Imaging efficiency patterns, care transitions, Emergency Department (ED) -throughput efficiency, care coordination, and patient safety.

History of Hospital Public Reporting

CMS first publicly reported data on hospital quality measures on a web site called Hospital Compare. Hospital Compare was created through the efforts of Medicare and the Hospital Quality Alliance (HQA). The HQA: Improving Care Through Information, a public-private collaboration, was created in December 2002 to promote reporting on hospital quality of care. The HQA consisted of organizations that represented consumers, hospitals, providers, employers, accrediting organizations, and federal agencies. The HQA effort was intended to make it easier for consumers to make informed health care decisions and to support efforts to improve quality in U.S. hospitals. Since its inception, many new measures and topics have been displayed on the public reporting sites.

  • 2005: Ten measure “starter set” (PDF) of process of care measures were displayed on such topics as heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and surgical care.
  • 2008: Data from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey, also known as the CAHPS Hospital Survey, was added to Hospital Compare. HCAHPS provides a standardized instrument and data collection methodology for measuring patient’s perspectives on hospital care. Also in 2008, CMS began reporting data on hospital 30-day mortality for heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia.
  • 2009: CMS added data on hospital outpatient facilities, which included outpatient imaging efficiency data as well as emergency department and surgical process of care measures.
  • 2010: Addition of 30-day readmission measures for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia patients.
  • 2011: CMS began posting data on Hospital Associated Infections (HAIs) received from the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHNS). The measure sets have been expanded to include ICU’s and other hospital wards.
  • 2012: Added data from the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program.
  • 2013: Added the Hospital Value Based Purchasing program data.
  • 2015: CMS added HCAHPS Star Ratings as part of the initiative to add 5-star quality ratings to its Compare websites.
  • 2016: Addition of the Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating in July 2016 and the re-introduction of measure data from Veterans Health Administration Hospitals.
  • 2017: Data on Department of Defense hospitals added to Hospital Compare.
  • 2020: Hospital data is reported alongside other care settings’ data, allowing users to compare hospitals, nursing homes, and more on one site. The legacy Hospital Compare website is retired.
  • 2023: Veterans Health Administration (VHA) hospitals are now eligible to receive Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings.
  • 2023: A new icon is displayed next to the hospital name in the search results window and within the Maternal Health modal when a hospital meets the criteria to be recognized as being “Birthing-Friendly."

Today, CMS reports over 150 hospital quality measures on Care Compare on and the Provider Data CatalogWe look forward to continuous improvement of the website and working with stakeholders to achieve this goal. 

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DISCLAIMER: The contents of this database lack the force and effect of law, except as authorized by law (including Medicare Advantage Rate Announcements and Advance Notices) or as specifically incorporated into a contract. The Department may not cite, use, or rely on any guidance that is not posted on the guidance repository, except to establish historical facts.