Medicare has launched a new site, still in a “skeletal” state, to compare hospice programs in the U.S.
Hospice care is care at the end of life; palliative care – or pain relief and symptom management — is the focus. Choosing a hospice for your loved one can be a difficult decision to make, and the new site aims to empower patients and their families to make the right decision.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma says, “The Hospice Compare website is an important tool for the American people and will help empower them in a time of vulnerability.”
Hospice facilities offer care to those with a terminal illness with six months or less to live. Caregivers can also receive grief and loss counseling through hospices.
With the new site, caregivers can compare hospice sites based on quality of care metrics such as percentage of patients screened for pain, and whether patients’ preferences are being met. The site has data on 3,876 hospice program as of now. Other comparison sites already exist for dialysis treatment centers, home health, hospitals, and nursing homes, among others.
While it is debated whether the compare site is helpful, it may be a move in the right direction, along with new federal rule change that will require hospices to be inspected every 3 years, as opposed to every 6, by 2018.
CMS plans to improve on the website next year, adding family ratings and other relevant data on quality of staff interactions with patients.