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Patient opinions to be included in CMS Hospital Compare Web site

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iHealthBeat: The federal government’s Hospital Compare Web site will expand to include patient opinions based on satisfaction surveys conducted at nearly all hospitals, from later this month.

Many hospitals have surveyed patients about their experiences for quite some time, but the questions and quality of the surveys vary widely. The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) is the first standardized survey, and it will allow patients and hospitals to see how facilities compare to one another.

The survey includes questions about the communication skills of physicians and nurses, pain control and the quality of discharge instructions. Hospitals that do not report the results of the 27-question survey will lose 2% of their Medicare reimbursement, according to Starr West, director of policy analysis for the Texas Hospital Association.

Hospitals are reviewing preliminary survey results for errors, and the patient satisfaction data are expected to be posted online on March 28. The Hospital Compare Web site already offers statistics on hospital death rates and treatment quality measures for heart attacks, pneumonia and other conditions.

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