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CMS Updates Quality Data on Physician and Hospital Compare Websites

December 11, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that it has updated its quality performance data on its Physician Compare and Hospital Compare websites.

These websites, according to CMS, are part of an Administration-wide effort to increase the availability and accessibility of information on quality to help consumers make informed healthcare decisions and encourage care improvements among healthcare professionals and hospitals.

The first quality measures were added to Physician Compare in February 2014; now, CMS has expanded the number of quality measures publicly reported on the website. For Physician Compare data, CMS posted 2014 clinical quality of care measures for more than 40,000 individual healthcare professionals who voluntarily reported as part of the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS).

A total of 14 group-level PQRS measures reported via the group practice reporting option web interface and six individual eligible professional (EP)-level PQRS measures reported via claims are now available on Physician Compare. In addition, eight patient experience measures are publicly reported for group practices of 25 or more EPs who reported Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) for PQRS summary survey measures, CMS said. The CAHPS for PQRS surveys ask Medicare patients for feedback about their experiences getting care from a particular group practice.  

What’s more, CMS posted the 2014 clinical quality of care and patient experience measures for approximately 333 Shared Savings Program accountable care organizations (ACOs) and 20 Pioneer ACOs. In future years, CMS said it will add additional measures to Physician Compare, which may include data collected from electronic health record (EHR) systems and qualified registries.

“Consumers want trustworthy, reliable, and understandable information about the quality of healthcare delivered by providers,” CMS deputy administrator and chief medical officer Patrick Conway, M.D., said in a statement. “Both Physician Compare and Hospital Compare show consumers that they have a choice. This large release of quality measures for hospitals and physicians empowers consumers with information to make more informed healthcare decisions, encourages healthcare professionals to strive for higher levels of quality, and drives overall health system improvement.”

On the Physician Compare website, performance scores on each measure for the group practices and individual EPs are displayed as stars followed by a percent, with each star representing 20 percent. The Physician Compare stars represent how each group practice or EP performs on any given quality measure and provide a graphical way of looking at the data. The stars convey quality information, so more stars are better. If a group practice or EP scores 80 percent on a measure, four fully-filled stars will be shown followed by “80%.” The stars on Physician Compare are not used as a rating or ranking system because they do not serve to benchmark or compare group practices or EPs against one another. However, consumers can use the quality of care information that is important to them in making informed decisions about their healthcare, CMS said.

Meanwhile, updates to the Hospital Compare website include:

  • A new measure added to the Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) program that shows whether a hospital uses safe surgery practices before administering anesthesia, before incision and closing, and prior to the patient leaving the operating room for inpatient surgical procedures.
  • Additional data for healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) that occurred in patients in intensive care units (ICUs), and medical, surgical, and combined medical and surgical ward locations.
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