HHS Launches Ad Campaign Inviting Nation to Rate, Compare Hospitals

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services yesterday launched a nationwide advertising campaign by placing ads in the May 21 edition of 58 major daily newspapers, inviting readers to go online and visit www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov in order to rate their local hospitals. HHS said the move was its first-ever national print ad campaign focusing on the quality of care available in the nation's hospitals and helped the department meet its goal of using new technologies to make the quality of health care services across the nation more transparent to the public.

The site being plugged, "Hospital Compare," is designed as an easy-to-use forum allowing 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. The site enables users to compare the quality of care provided in nearly 4,000 hospitals across the country. 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:

  • Percentage of patients at each hospital who always received help when they requested it, as reported by the patients themselves;
  • Percentage of patients at each hospital who were given antibiotics one hour prior to surgery, as reported by hospitals; and
  • The state average for each of these two measures.

HHS said it hopes the ads--and the information available at the Web site--will encourage hospitals to improve the care they provide to patients. "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," said Kerry Weems, acting administrator of HHS' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the division that both placed the ads and, in collaboration with the Hospital Quality Alliance, created the Hospital Compare site.

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