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CMS Adds Hospitals to Medicare Disparities Data Visualization Tool

The new Hospital View feature allows users to compare health outcomes using Medicare’s interactive data visualization tool.

CMS has added hospitals to its Medicare Disparities data visualization tool

Source: Thinkstock

By Jessica Kent

- CMS has expanded the Mapping Medicare Disparities (MMD) Tool to include a Hospital View, which enables users to compare healthcare quality and outcomes at the hospital level and identify care disparities for Medicare patients.

Launched in March 2016 by the CMS Office of Minority Health, the MMD Tool uses data visualization techniques to help users identify areas of disparities between subgroups of Medicare beneficiaries in health outcomes, utilization, and spending.

Stakeholders can utilize this information to inform policy decisions, target specific populations or geographies for interventions, and understand racial and ethnic differences in health outcomes.

“We want local providers to understand the issues facing their service areas, and we want to give them the opportunity to drill down into some of the factors related to their work that may need improvement,” Cara V. James, PhD, Director of the CMS Office of Minority Health told HealthITAnalytics.com at the time.

“As we continue to link socioeconomic factors to clinical care, we will be able to rethink how to address these relationships, and I believe that will help us make a meaningful impact on metrics like readmission rates or medication adherence.”

The new Hospital View feature is interactive and web-based, and provides users with over 50 quality measures by which to compare organizations, including avoidable hospitalizations and 30-day readmission rates.

Users can also compare and analyze individual hospitals’ metrics and performance to those of other hospitals based on geography, hospital type, and hospital size.

Moreover, hospitals can use the feature to compare their performance to their county, state, or national average.

With Hospital View, providers can identify trends and disparities in healthcare delivery, and work to improve their performance in these areas.

For example, the Hospital View feature shows that Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has the lowest rate of 30-day hospital readmissions out of all 11 acute care organizations in its county, with especially low rates in readmissions for pneumonia, COPD, and coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). 

Source: CMS

However, Hospital View also shows that MGH has lower than average rates of patient satisfaction with doctor communication, with MGH receiving a score of 3.0 out of 5 for this measure and other acute care hospitals in the county receiving an average of 3.4.

MGH was also ranked slightly lower in patient satisfaction with provider communication about medicines, suggesting that clinicians could focus on strengthening clinical communication and making personal connections with Medicare beneficiaries.

Source: CMS

In addition to the Hospital View, CMS has also updated the Population View feature of the MMD Tool to include 2016 data, as well as information on breast, colorectal, prostate, and lung cancer.

Population View now also shows Emergency Department Utilization by condition, and state and national profile views to complement county profiles.

With these updates, CMS and the Office of Minority Health expect to expand their efforts to reduce care disparities among Medicare beneficiaries, and improve community health outcomes.

“Part of the challenge is that we don’t always have data on race and ethnicity for some of our beneficiaries. That being said, there is still so much we can learn from the information available,” said James.

“If we are going to try and really make meaningful impacts on population health management, we really do have to start to look at this.” 

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