U.S. Government Advertises Hospital Quality Ratings

May 23, 2008 07:03 AM
by Lindsey Chapman
A new advertising campaign urges consumers to check out a hospital before seeking treatment there, which may spur hospitals to make quality-of-care improvements.

30-Second Summary

 “It makes the feds crazy” that “almost nobody” checks out a hospital before seeking treatment there, writes U.S. News & World Report health blogger Avery Comarow.

To address the matter, the government has taken out a $1.9 million advertising campaign in 58 newspapers across the country. Important quality-of-care information for medical facilities in a paper’s circulation area will be provided in a full-page ad.

The information disclosed in the newspaper ads is just part of what people can find out about a medical facility from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Hospital Compare Web site. Making the data publicly available like this “gives patients the ability to compare hospitals, which wasn’t possible before without a national standardized assessment,” said Deb Smith of the OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington, Ill.

Hospitals are also using the information
from Hospital Compare to see where their services need improvement. “It’s a chance for us to see what we do well, and for the medical staff to learn” about needed improvements, said Dr. Peter Shea, the medical director of the William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich, Conn.

“Transparency in health care is a growing trend,” added Keith Fontaine, the Backus vice president of corporate communications. CMS plans to continue requesting performance data from hospitals and keep building its Web site over time.

“It’s time to make quality information available at the fastest rate that we can but ensure the data are reliable,” said CMS administrator Kerry Weems.

Headline Link: Online report cards for medical facilities

Reactions: Medical facilities weigh in

Reference: Health Compare site, Health Web Guide

Hospital Compare Web site
Online health resources

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