The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (Cms) has just opened their new Hospice Compare website for public use. Hospice facilities provide specialized care to individuals who have terminal illness and a prognosis of six months or less if the illness runs its normal course. Patients, family, and caregivers now have another tool to help them find the best hospice provider for their needs. The CMS Hospice Compare site provides a snapshot of all Medicare approved facilities and their rating in terms of quality of care so that the patient and caregiver can make a better, less stressful decision.

CMS' intent is to give patients, family members, and caregivers a reliable, transparent resource.

Compare sites: a tool to find better health care

Last year CMS improved and updated their Compare sites to better serve the consumer with their health decisions. Section 3004 of the ACA requires CMS to establish procedures for making quality data available to the public, and the Hospice Compare website is the latest to be available. The Hospice Quality Reporting Program (HQRP) -- the measure of quality that relates to the care provided by hospice programs across the country -- was established in Section 1814(i)(5) of the Social Security Act. It also requires that it must be open to the public on a CMS website.

CMS also maintains the following:

  • Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Compare
  • Long-Term Care Hospital Compare
  • Hospital Compare
  • Physician Compare
  • Nursing Home Compare
  • Medicare Plan Finder
  • Dialysis Compare
  • Home Health Compare

The wave of the future

It has been reported that the easily comparable quality data system will have an industry-wide impact on hospice services, including admission patterns, with hospice providers being forced to also compete on the basis of certain performance metrics, such as a one to five star rating platform.

Approximately 3,876 Hospices have contributed data to the new site. These sites allow a view of services offered, the management of patient care, and the percentage of patients that were screened for pain, uncomfortable breathing, or other difficulties. This should improved outcomes such as decreased risk of hospitalization, emergency room visits, and hospital deaths, reduce caregiver distress, and improve patient and caregiver satisfaction with care. This should also improve quality of life during the patients’ last days.