Government Website Rates Hospitals

The U.S. government is launching an ad campaign to promote a website where consumers can check to see how good their hospitals are, measured by such things as patient satisfaction and cooperation with recommended care guidelines. The website, called Hospital Compare, can be found here.

But the federal government is not the only such purveyor of such information: Zagat Survey (the same people who publish the restaurant guide) also rates doctors, for example.

These efforts are limited, however, by the lack of common standards. From the article:

While ratings efforts can be useful, they also can be confusing and limited in scope, says Robert Berenson, a senior fellow with the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank that studies policy issues.

“If I were a consumer looking at these reports, I would be bewildered by the variations that show up across different rating systems,” says Berenson, who says there is not enough information available to shop for health care the way people shop for cars or televisions.

However, some organizations are making efforts to address this problem:

Last month, the Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project, a coalition of groups representing consumers, employers and unions, agreed to develop a national set of standards to measure doctor performance.

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