iHealthBeat: Hospital quality comparison Web sites still are relatively simplistic and have yet to have a significant impact, but consumer choice advocates say the sites will become broader and more sophisticated and will be used by more patients.
Enrollee-specific Web sites from large national health plans, such as Aetna, Cigna and UnitedHealthcare, are growing in popularity and are beginning to include cost and quality information, Ted von Glahn,Director of consumer engagement for the Pacific Business Group on Health, said. Other Web sites, such as CMS' Hospital Compare site and Health Grades' quality-comparison tool, only compare a few quality measures and do not take into account the level of insurance coverage consumers might have. Most of the Web sites do not compare costs or consider insurance coverage or physician preferences. CMS, in the next few years, plans to add data on clinical outcomes, cost and efficiency to its Web site.