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CMS tool to help consumers make informed care decisions

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services wants to provide consumers with a simplified and consistent online experience to make it easier for them to find and compare healthcare providers.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced on Thursday that the agency is planning to combine and standardize its eight separate Compare tools on Medicare.gov—Hospital, Nursing Home, Home Health, Dialysis Facility, Long-term Care Hospital, Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility, Physician and Hospice)—to enable consumers to better differentiate providers.

“We are working on new improvements to Medicare.gov to help patients find healthcare providers in different settings across the care continuum,” writes Verma in a blog, noting that CMS plans to launch the centralized online comparison tool later this year.

In addition, she envisions the consolidated platform also serving the “needs of industry stakeholders who search data that are important to them.”

Verma contends that although the existing eight Compare tools “are among the most popular and used sections of the Medicare website, each one functions independently with varying user interfaces that make them difficult to understand and challenging to navigate.”

To address those shortcomings, CMS is developing a new Medicare Care Compare site on Medicare.gov that will enable beneficiaries to easily access information about providers and care settings, including quality data.

“We are also working to develop an improved companion portal that Medicare researchers and stakeholders can use to access the more detailed data that are important to them,” according to Verma, who says all datasets will be made available via an application programming interface.

“This new Provider Data Catalog will reside on CMS.gov,” adds Verma. “It will have an improved interface and intuitive search features to allow users to easily search and download CMS’ publicly reported data, better serving stakeholders who use the interactive and downloadable datasets like those currently found on data.Medicare.gov.”

This spring, CMS is planning to launch both Medicare Care Compare and the Provider Data Catalog as part of a “transition period” that will enable the public to use the new resources alongside the existing tools before they are retired.

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