This past week the Trump administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the launch of Care Compare on Medicare.gov. The new tool combines eight existing tools into a more unified platform. Previously a user would have had to use three different tools to search for a doctor, a nursing home and hospital. Now a patient is able to search for all three on the same interface.
Care Compare builds on the lessons learned from the administration's eMedicare initiative that was launched in 2018 which sought to optimize the online health care experience of current and future Medicare beneficiaries. “Since day one, President Trump has been committed to strengthening the Medicare program—eMedicare puts his leadership into action by giving Medicare beneficiaries a simpler, more intuitive customer experience,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said. “Our intent is not to replace traditional channels that beneficiaries trust and depend on, but to improve and enhance them with the emerging digital options to create a user-centered, seamless consumer experience.” 65% of Medicare beneficiaries now use the internet daily or almost daily and these new initiatives seek to meet the healthcare information needs of a changing demographic of beneficiaries.
In line with the goals of the eMedicare initiative, Care Compare has also been designed to be user friendly on tablets and mobile devices. It has also been designed to have patient friendly features, such as being able to call a provider when using the tool on a smartphone.
In its current form someone would have to visit both Hospital Compare and Nursing Home Compare when researching a surgery and recovery. Now with new streamlined service, patients will be able to search for providers and different care settings all in one place.
The new Care Compare interface also provides patients with guides and checklists with common questions to help them select the best healthcare product for them. Care Compare utilizes the same measures and data as before however it has been launched to create a more user friendly interface. There will be a transition period when users will be able to use the existing tools and provide additional feedback.
In addition to Care Compare, improvements have been made to several existing CMS data tools for Medicare beneficiaries. The Procedure Price Look Up (PPL) tool has been updated to provide better estimated out of pocket expenses by including physician fees and facilities fees. The Provider Data Catalog (PDC) now makes datasets available through a new Application Programming Interface (API) allowing innovators and stakeholders to make CMS publicly reported data more useful for patients.
CMS also launched several other new tools under the eMedicare initiative including:
- A completely redesigned Medicare Plan Finder Tool for last Open Enrollment
- “What’s Covered” app that tells people what’s covered and what’s not in Original Medicare
- A price transparency tool that lets consumers compare Medicare payments and copayments for certain procedures performed in both hospital outpatient departments and ambulatory surgical centers
- Interactive online decision support to help people better understand and evaluate their Medicare coverage options and costs between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage
- An online service that lets people quickly see how different coverage choices will affect their estimated out-of-pocket costs Webchat option in Medicare Plan Finder helps people get on-the-spot support
- Easy-to-use surveys across Medicare.gov so patients and consumers can continue to offer feedback about their online experiences.