The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Introduces Care Compare
Care Compare Offers the User a Solid Overall Tool to Evaluate Nursing Homes in a Specific Area
In September 2020, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rolled out their new online tool called Care Compare. The electronic service, which comprises eight formerly separate online tools at Medicare.gov, offers patients the option to utilize a user-friendly interface to make informed decisions about their own health and treatment options. Compatible with both smartphones and tablets, patients and caregivers can now examine the location, cost, volume of services, quality of care, and other metrics related to the treatments they are seeking.
Within the Care Compare tool, people can look at detailed information related to doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, home health services, centers that offer dialysis, long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation centers, and hospice groups. This allows patients to have greater influence in their own care and make informed decisions about where they would like to receive treatment instead of entrusting that choice to others.
This process also helps to hold lackluster facilities accountable, as more informed patients will more easily be able to avoid those locations. This will impact the bottom line of many facilities and prompt beneficial changes in order to attract patients.
How Care Compare Stacks Up with the Experts
The University of Miami’s Miami Herbert Business School examined the impacts of joining Medicare.gov’s tools into the singular Care Compare resource, and assistant professor of health management and policy Emma Boswell Dean noted that most patients previously had no idea that these tools even existed. By compiling them all in the same location, they are more accessible than ever before. Additionally, Care Compare is far more user friendly than the previous, bulky user interface of the different Medicare pages.
However, some critics have noted that the online tool still has improvements to make so that it is easier to use for seniors. Others expressed concern at the quality or reliability of the data being presented in Care Compare. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are welcoming feedback to improve the tool.
Overall, most experts agree that the Medicare Care Compare tool is a wonderful start for a patient or family to vet a long term care facility.
How CMS’ Care Compare Works
The new tool is located at medicare.gov/care-compare. From this location, interested patients can input their zip code and receive local details about providers and facilities in their area. Unlike previous tools, Care Compare now allows patients to compare different types of providers—for example, someone could simultaneously review a doctor, a home health service, and a rehabilitative facility.
Optimization for the website continues, but for now, heavy emphasis has already been placed on making Care Compare friendly for browsers on both desktop and mobile devices. Information is made accessible even for those who may have mobility difficulties—such as by being able to call a provider simply by tapping their phone number instead of having to manually input it.
The executive director of Kaiser Family Foundation’s Program on Medicare Policy, Tricia Neuman, expressed some criticism that many patients and their families using this tool are likely in the midst of a medical crisis, and they may not have the time or emotional energy to sift through the amount of data currently presented. She suggests that Care Compare devise better methods of bringing the most critical information to the forefront directly from the start, and Professor Dean agrees. “If you go to, for instance, hospitals,” she noted, “and you want to compare two different hospitals, you have to click the Compare button essentially three times. I don’t think my grandmother could figure that out.”
How to Use Medicare Care Compare Works
From the website, input your zip code, or the zip code where your loved one lives. Under provider type, choose Nursing Home (or any other type of healthcare provider you’d like to compare). Click ‘Search’.
You can now sort the available facilities by distance (closest), or highest rated. Just click the green word that defaults to ‘Closest’. If you click on a facility or provider name, Care Compare will allow you to view overall ratings, recent inspection citations and ownership details.
Although a useful tool, remember that websites and ratings are no replacement for an on-site visit to a potential nursing home. You must ultimately choose the nursing home that you feel is best for you. You cannot rely solely on a website.
Not all Nursing Home Corporations Like Medicare’s Care Compare
Not all facilities listed in the Care Compare tool have responded positively to the venture. They claim that the star rating system is based upon models that do not accurately represent their situation. Care Compare has announced that it plans to reconsider and revise the ranking system so that facilities with confirmed cases of patient abuse, negligence injuries like bedsores, and other critical issues will be ranked far below those that simply had a high number of readmissions. This is very important to our nursing home abuse attorneys, as it objectively punishes poorly rated, repeat offender facilities.
Similarly—and particularly important to nursing homes and elder care facilities—staffing levels will now be documented via claims rather than being self-reported. This will help to shed light on the true state of staff to patient ratios in long-term care locations to reduce the occurrence of negligent behavior due to overworked nurses.
The Care Compare tool can be found by clicking here.« Previous PostNext Post »