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Medicare Announces Additions to Tool for Comparing Nursing Homes
On July 19, 2012, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the Nursing Home Compare website has been updated and redesigned. CMS created Nursing Home Compare in 1998 as an interactive tool for Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers to access comparison information about every Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country. The website compares nursing homes according to quality measures of the health, physical functioning, mental status, and general well-being of short-stay and long-stay residents. This information is collected and self-reported to CMS by nursing homes using a form called the Minimum Data Set.
Additions to the Nursing Home Compare website include access to narratives that outline specific findings from nursing home inspections, as well as two new quality measures that report on a nursing home’s use of antipsychotic medications. Data on the other quality measures and information on nursing home ownership have also been updated.
“These new updates to the Hospital and the Nursing Home Compare websites are the next stage of transparently sharing data to drive improvement in our health system,” said Patrick Conway, chief medical officer for CMS, in a press release. Other elements of the redesign include large maps for pinpointing facilities, glossaries, and other tools to make the website easier to search and understand.
Improvements to the Nursing Home Compare website were expressed as a goal in the CMS 2012 Nursing Home Action Plan, a strategic plan published earlier this year that outlines goals in improving nursing home quality nationwide. The recent changes to the website were spurred by feedback from consumers, healthcare providers, state representatives, and other groups, with whom CMS representatives met during early summer. According to the Action Plan, CMS will continually evaluate additional quality measures for nursing homes, such as measures of hospitalization, discharge to the community, and functional status improvement in both short-stay and long-stay residents. Read the entire 2012 Nursing Home Action Plan.