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U.S. Web Site Helps Consumers Compare Hospitals

Ad campaign promotes awareness of quality measures at almost 4,000 centers

THURSDAY, May 22 (HealthDay News) -- The first national print advertising campaign focusing on the quality of care in American hospitals was launched this week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The ads, which began appearing May 21 in 58 major daily newspapers, promote the department's Hospital Compare Web site, which is designed to help consumers make well-informed decisions when selecting a hospital.

The Web site offers information about 26 quality-of-care measures -- including quality of clinical care for specific procedures and what patients say about their experiences -- in almost 4,000 hospitals across the United States.

The newspaper ads, placed by the HHS' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), provide scores from two of the 26 quality-of-care measures on Hospital Compare for a sample of hospitals in the newspapers' coverage areas.

In the ads, readers are invited to "Compare the Quality of Your Local Hospitals" and are provided with the following information:

  • Percentage of patients at each hospital who always received help when they requested it, as reported by patients.
  • Percentage of patients at each hospital who were given antibiotics one hour before surgery, as reported by hospitals.
  • The state average for each of these two measures.

"The newspaper ads are designed to raise awareness about the important information on Hospital Compare. Patients and their family members can use this information to see how well their hospitals are providing care, and hospitals can use the data to focus on areas where there is opportunity to improve the quality of care," Kerry Weems, CMS acting administrator, said in a prepared statement.

Patient experience information available on Hospital Compare is collected through a new patient survey, the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS), the first national, standardized, publicly reported survey of patient opinions about the quality of their care.

The survey results included on Hospital Compare cover 10 main areas of patient experience, including how often doctors and nurses communicated well with patients, how often patients received help quickly, and patients' overall rating of hospitals.

More information

Here's where you can find Hospital Compare.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, news release, May 20, 2008

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