New site makes it easier to shop for hospice care

The federal government has made it a little easier for families to do some comparison shopping when they need a hospice program. The Hospice Compare website, created by the Centers for Medicare Services (CMS), went live last month.

The site allows users to find hospice programs near them, and see how the programs compare to the national average and each other in seven measures of quality: whether patients were asked at the beginning of their care about their treatment preferences; were asked about their beliefs and values; were checked for pain at the beginning of care; whether their pain was well assessed, were checked for shortness of breath; were treated well for it; and whether those taking opioids for pain relief were offered care for constipation.

There are no overall rating scores, and the site does not provide information about patient complaints or overall satisfaction.

Users of the site are able to do side-by-side comparisons of only three programs at a time, although they can get access to more complex data. The data are based on information submitted by nearly 3,900 hospices, CMS said in a news release.

The site also shares advice, such as questions to ask hospice providers.

Hospice Compare joins other CMS sites that allow consumers to compare hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, and rehabilitation facilities.