The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) unveiled the new Hospice Compare website on Wednesday.

According to CMS, the site displays information in a ready-to­­-use format and provides a snapshot of the quality of care each hospice facility offers to its patients.

In its announcement Wednesday, CMS said the Hospice Compare site will allow patients, family members, caregivers, and healthcare providers to compare hospice providers based on important quality metrics, such as the percentage of patients that were screened for pain or experienced difficult or uncomfortable breathing, or whether patients’ preferences are being met. Currently, according to CMS, the data on Hospice Compare is based on information submitted by approximately 3,876 hospices nationwide.

The Hospice Compare website will reflect current industry best practices for consumer-facing websites and will be optimized for mobile use, CMS also noted in its announcement.

“The opening of Hospice Compare is an important step forward in providing Medicare beneficiaries with vital information about care quality among the hospices across the country,” William Dombi, vice president for law for the National Association of Hospice and Home Care, told RACmonitor in an email statement. “We have long supported Medicare’s efforts to provide greater public information and transparency in healthcare quality.”

Dombi said that extending public reporting through Hospice Compare would advance these important goals.

“We greatly appreciate CMS’s efforts in working with the hospice community in the development of Hospice Compare and look forward to continuing this work as Hospice Compare evolves over the coming years,” Dombi said.  

Hospice facilities offer specialized care and support to individuals with a terminal illness and a prognosis of six months or less to live if the illness runs its normal course. Once a patient elects hospice care, the focus shifts from curative treatment to palliative care for relief of pain and symptom management, and care is generally provided where the patient lives. Additionally, caregivers can get support through the hospice benefit, such as grief and loss counseling. Hospice Compare helps patients and caregivers find hospice providers in their area and compare them on quality-of-care metrics.

CMS in its announcement referred to section 1814(i)(5) of the Social Security Act, which authorizes a quality reporting program for hospices. The Act, according to CMS, requires hospice providers to report data to CMS on a number of quality measures selected through notice and comment rulemaking.

The Hospice Quality Reporting Program (HQRP) includes both quality data from the Hospice Item Set (HIS) and Hospice Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (Hospice CAHPS®).

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