The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is moving forward with its plan to retire the old Home Health Compare in favor of a new, multi-setting tool known simply as “Care Compare.”
By Dec. 1, CMS will move away from Home Health Compare, Nursing Home Compare, Hospital Compare and the five similar online tools that help Medicare beneficiaries weigh their care options. CMS has been posting a subset of OASIS-related information on Home Health Compare since 2003, adding a star-ratings component in 2015.
Other compare tools have been around for even longer.
CMS first announced plans to merge all the compare sites into a single service in January. The agency officially launched the streamlined Care Compare in September, giving Medicare providers a few months of transition time before sending the old tools to the digital scrapyard.
“Care Compare provides a single user-friendly interface that patients and caregivers can use to make informed decisions about health care based on cost, quality of care, volume of services and other data,” the agency stated at the time. “With just one click, patients can find information that is easy to understand about doctors, hospitals, nursing homes and other health care services instead of searching through multiple tools.”
Before Care Compare, someone who is planning to have bypass surgery would need to visit Hospital Compare, Nursing Home Compare and Home Health Compare individually to research providers for the different phases of their surgery and rehabilitation. The new system is designed to theoretically avoid that.
The launch of Care Compare is part of the Trump administration’s 2018 eMedicare initiative, a multi-year plan to update the way beneficiaries get information about Medicare.
“Since [September], you’ve had the opportunity to use and familiarize yourself with Care Compare while having the option to use the original compare tools, too,” CMS said in a Nov. 18 alert. “You’ve also been able to share feedback from a survey directly on Care Compare, and we’ve received lots of great feedback so far.”
While CMS is moving away from the eight original compare tools, Medicare beneficiaries and others will still be able to find historic information about health care providers and quality data on Care Compare. Individuals will also still be able to download CMS publicly reported data from the Provider Data Catalog on CMS.gov.
Additionally, fully transitioning to Care Compare does not change how CMS measures quality, the agency noted. Moving forward, officials plan to continue making improvements to Care Compare based on stakeholder and consumer feedback.
For home health providers that have yet to think about the switch to Care Compare, CMS is urging them to start exploring the tool while asking their caregivers, patients and staff to do the same.
CMS also recommended that providers update any links to the eight original care tools on their public-facing websites.