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CMS Adds Children's Health Care Info to Hospital Compare Site

By Miriam Straus, CQ Staff

September 3, 2008 -- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it has added information on 30-day mortality rates for pneumonia and on inpatient asthma treatment for children to Hospital Compare, its Web site on the quality of care in U.S. hospitals. This is the first time the site has included data on children's health care, the agency said.

The site has been viewed more than 20 million times this year, according to CMS press release. The addition in March 2008 of patient experience information and Medicare payment and volume data has contributed to an over four-fold increase in monthly views, CMS said.

"Expanding the scope of measures is making Hospital Compare a more valuable tool," Michael O. Leavitt, secretary of Health and Human Services, said in a statement.

Including the latest additions, Hospital Compare reports on 26 process of care measures, three outcome of care measures, two children's asthma care measures, and 10 patient experience measures. Along with the new data on 30-day pneumonia mortality rates, the site also posts information on the 30-day mortality rates for heart failure and heart attacks.

Since Hospital Compare began reporting such data last summer, the national 30-day heart attack mortality rate has fallen, from 16.3 percent to 16.1 percent, the CMS press release noted. There also is less variance in individual hospitals' heart attack mortality rates, CMS said.

The site also reports whether individual hospitals' mortality rates for pneumonia, heart attacks, and heart failures are "Better than," "No different from," or "Worse than" the national mortality rates for these conditions. The rates are risk-adjusted to account for the state of patients when they enter the hospital, CMS said. Hospital Compare also provides the interval estimate and the number of eligible cases for each hospital.

"CMS is giving customers and communities additional insight into the performance of their local hospitals in hopes that this will prompt all hospitals to work toward achieving the level of the top-performing hospitals in the country," the press release said. The agency also advised consumers not to view any one process or outcome measure on the Web site as a means to "shop" for a hospital.

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