WASHINGTON, May 20 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is launching the first national print advertising campaign focusing on the quality of care available in the nation's hospitals.
The ads, placed by HHS' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in the May 21 edition of 58 major daily newspapers, promote Hospital Compare (http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov), an easy-to-use Web site that helps consumers make well-informed decisions when choosing a hospital. The ads provide scores from two of the 26 quality and patient satisfaction measures on the Web site for a sample of hospitals in the newspapers' areas. The 26 quality measures allow patients to better understand 10 key aspects of the patient experience.
"These ads -- and Hospital Compare -- are intended to give consumers more information for making choices about their health care," said HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt. "This brings us closer to meeting the goal of using new technologies to make the quality of health care services all across the nation more transparent to the public."
"The newspaper ads are designed to raise awareness about the important information on Hospital Compare," said CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems. "Patients and their family members can use this information to see how well their hospitals are providing care, and hospitals can use the data to focus on areas where there is opportunity to improve the quality of care."
The ads highlight two measures found on www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov, a Web site that allows users to compare the quality of care provided in nearly 4,000 hospitals across the nation. The newspaper ad, aimed at reaching areas covered by about 1,000 of these hospitals, invites readers to "Compare the Quality of Your Local Hospitals" and contains the following information:
The Hospital Compare ad campaign is the most recent effort by the Department to make reliable information easy to find and raise standards in the health care system. In addition, HHS officials hope the ads -- and the information available at Hospital Compare -- will encourage hospitals to improve the care they provide to patients.
Hospital Compare allows consumers to compare local hospitals on measures that are critical to patients and family members, including quality of clinical care for specific procedures, and what patients say about their hospital experience.
On Hospital Compare, consumers will find 26 quality of care measures that can be used to compare hospitals to each other, or to state and national benchmarks in addition to information about the care provided to patients with heart failure and heart attack -- or acute myocardial infarction. The newest enhancement to Hospital Compare is the inclusion of 10 patient experience-of-care topics that allow consumers around the country to get a better picture of the quality of care delivered at their local hospitals.
The patient experience-of-care information available on Hospital Compare is collected through a new patient survey, the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey. HCAHPS (pronounced "H-caps") is the first national, standardized, publicly reported survey of patients' perspectives of care.
Survey results reported on Hospital Compare cover 10 key aspects of the patient experience, including how often doctors and nurses communicated well with patients, how often patients received help quickly -- one of the features in the newspaper ads -- and patients' overall rating of the hospital.
Hospital Compare was created by CMS in collaboration with the Hospital Quality Alliance, a private/public partnership that includes the American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, the Association of American Medical