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New website provides health care quality, cost comparisons

The Maine Health Data Organization has launched a new healthcare transparency website that consumers can use to compare the average cost of over 200 medical procedures at more than 170 healthcare facilities in the state. They can also use the site to compare quality ratings for many facilities. The site is available at www.CompareMaine.org.

The Maine Health Data Organization is a state agency that collects healthcare data from insurance companies and stores them in a highly secure All-Payer Claims Database. This database is the source of the cost information for CompareMaine. The quality ratings on the site come from Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems surveys administered by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The MHDO also convened a consumer advisory group over 18 months ago to provide feedback to the agency on the content, design and functionality of the new website.

“This launch is the culmination of an enormous effort,” said Lisa Harvey McPherson, Chair of the MHDO Board of Directors. “Grant funds from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services made the new website possible. MHDO created the website in collaboration with researchers from the Human Services Research Institute, NORC at the University of Chicago, and web designer Wowza.”

“CompareMaine differs from other healthcare transparency tools in a few key ways,” said Karynlee Harrington, Acting Executive Director of MHDO. “The first difference is the scope of the site’s coverage. CompareMaine displays the average costs for more than 200 health care procedures. Users can compare costs by facility – including hospitals, surgical centers, diagnostic imaging centers, labs, and clinics – and by health insurance companies in the state of Maine.

“Second, the site is one of only two state sites that present quality ratings alongside cost information. These ratings show how patients rank their overall experience and how Maine hospitals compare on keeping patients safe.”

“We look forward to people visiting the new site and providing us with feedback through the online survey form,” concluded Harrington. “We will be updating the cost information on the site twice a year; the quality data will be updated accordingly and we will make other updates as needed.”

“In Maine and across the nation, there can be large differences in the cost and quality for the same health care service,” said Governor LePage. “You may pay a lot more for the same procedure depending on where you go. I hope that by making this information available, consumers and employers will be positioned to make better informed decisions.”

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