The federal government on Thursday announced the completion of a plan to fold its consumer-facing Nursing Home Compare website into a larger database of public information on a variety of health care providers.
Now known as Care Compare, the overhauled Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) site compiles information about nursing homes, home health services, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, long-term acute care hospitals, dialysis providers, and hospitals.
“By aggregating all eight of CMS’s quality tools into a single interface, patients can easily research different providers and facilities before they entrust themselves to their care,” administrator Seema Verma said in a statement announcing the rollout. “Today’s launch of Care Compare is the next step in fulfilling our eMedicare promise. Our administration is committed to ensuring our tools are robust and beneficial to patients.”
Nursing Home Compare has served as a resource for consumers considering long-term care options since 1998, with the flagship five-star quality rating launched in 2008.
CMS announced the consolidation back in January; Verma described the old siloed system as difficult for consumers to navigate and understand.
“In the new, unified experience, patients will be able to easily find the information that is most important to help make health care decisions, like getting quality data by the type of health care provider,” Verma wrote in a January blog post.
The updated site also provides a checklist of information that potential residents and their families can use when evaluating nursing homes.
While users must still search the databases for each provider type separately, CMS framed the collection of all eight Compare tools on a single homepage as a way for Medicare beneficiaries to plan their entire continuum of care from the start of a health episode.
“Currently, 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,” CMS observed in its announcement. “Now, those patients can start their search at Care Compare to find and compare providers that meet their healthcare needs that includes information about quality measures presented similarly and clearly across all provider types and care settings.”
During Verma’s tenure as the Trump administration’s top Medicare official, CMS has undertaken a variety of steps to overhaul Nursing Home Compare, including changes to the calculations for achieving the highest five-star quality ratings and the controversial addition of a warning icon next to the names of nursing homes with a history of abuse citations.
CMS has also provided a running tally of COVID-19 infections and deaths in nursing homes since June.
All eight individual sites will continue to operate on a legacy basis, with stakeholders allowed to submit comments on the new system.
“During a transition period, consumers and other stakeholders will be able to use the original eight compare tools while CMS continues to gather feedback and considers additional improvements to the tool,” CMS noted. “As new information about quality and cost are added to the compare tools, Care Compare will be updated to reflect that information.”