Hospital Compare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) website that provides the public with data on various hospital quality measures, has added two more outpatient medical imaging use statistics.
The new criteria that consumers are supposed to check are:
- Outpatients who got cardiac imaging stress tests before low-risk outpatient surgery; and
- Outpatients with brain CT scans who got a sinus CT scan at the same time.
Hospital Compare helpfully explains that for both measures, lower percentages are better.
A key question critics of Hospital Compare pose is: Do patients actually use all the data CMS puts up when selecting a hospital? However, that may not be the point. The media and health care advocacy groups like HealthInsight use Hospital Compare data to rank hospitals and sometimes publicly shame those whose quality measures are low.
Hospital Compare is now in its seventh year of issuing quality measures for hospitals based on Medicare claims data. The four outpatient imaging use criteria it was already tracking before the two new criteria were added are:
- Outpatients with low back pain who had an MRI without trying recommended treatments first, such as physical therapy.
- Outpatients who had a follow-up mammogram or ultrasound within 45 days after a screening mammogram.
- Outpatient CT scans of the chest that were “combination” (double) scans.
- Outpatient CT scans of the abdomen that were “combination” (double) scans.