How to Use the Medicare Hospital Care Compare Site

In this article...
  • Medicare’s Hospital Compare website can help you compare providers and make more informed healthcare decisions. Read our review of the Care Compare tool so that you know everything you need to know to find the right care for your needs.

Let’s imagine you knew a knee replacement was inevitable, but you tried to delay it as long as possible. Now you’re ready, and you need to decide where to have it done. There are several hospitals nearby, and you want to make sure you receive the best care possible during the surgery and while you recover. Is there anything you can do to make an informed decision about where to go?

Fortunately, you can use Medicare’s Hospital Compare website. Just as you would compare flights on or product reviews on, you can use Hospital Compare evaluate hospitals and other types of providers to find high-quality healthcare services.

What Is Hospital Compare?

Hospital Compare is a consumer-oriented website that was created in 2002 to help consumers make informed healthcare decisions and drive higher-quality hospital care. Over time, the Medicare Care Compare website has grown to include many additional provider types, enabling consumers to shop around for healthcare services with ease.

What Types of Providers Can I Compare on Hospital Compare?

The Hospital Compare website enables consumers to compare doctors, hospitals, nursing homes (including rehabilitation services), home health services, hospice care, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, long-term care hospitals and dialysis facilities.

What Kind of Data Will I Find on Hospital Compare?

It depends. For example, if you’re searching for a hospital, you can use Hospital Compare to directly compare performance measures related to heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, surgery and other conditions.

Results are organized into these categories:

  • General information
  • Survey of patients’ experiences
  • Timely and effective care
  • Complications
  • Readmissions and deaths
  • Use of medical imaging
  • Payment and value of care

Want to know how many patients had a surgical site infection following colon surgery? What about the number of patients who have a serious complication following surgery? Deaths among patients with serious treatable complications after surgery? You can find out all of this and more on the Hospital Compare website.

If you’re looking for an inpatient rehabilitation facility, on the other hand, you can compare types of conditions treated in the last year, the number of times those conditions were treated as well as care quality.

Rehab facility results are organized into these categories:

  • Complications
  • Results of care
  • Effective care
  • Medication reconciliation
  • Infections
  • Prevention
  • Readmissions
  • Successful return to home and community
  • Payment and value of care

How Can I Use Hospital Compare to Choose a Provider?

For example, let’s say you’re trying to decide where you want to have your hip replaced. Go to the Care Compare website. Then click select ‘hospitals’ from the ‘provider type’ dropdown menu. Be sure to also enter your address, and then click ‘search.’ From here, you can filter by distance from your location, overall star rating, patient survey rating, emergency services and hospital type.

If you click on a specific hospital, you’ll see five tabs: Rating, quality, details, affiliated doctors and clinicians and location. The ‘quality’ tab is particularly helpful because it enables you to see how a certain hospital compares with other hospitals both nationally and within your state in terms of the quality of care it provides.

Here’s another example of how to use the Hospital Compare website: Let’s say you’re looking for a cardiologist. Go to the Care Compare website. Then click select ‘doctors and clinicians’ from the ‘provider type’ dropdown menu.

Be sure to enter your address and the specialty (i.e., cardiology). The website also gives you these additional options if you’d like to be more specific: Advanced heart failure and transplant, cardiovascular disease, and interventional cardiology. Then click ‘search.’

From here, you can further specify distance from your location, sex of the provider and whether the provider charges the Medicare-approved amount so you pay less out of pocket (i.e., you won’t be billed for more than the Medicare deductible and co-insurance).

If you click on ‘view all filters,’ you can narrow down your search by board certification, practice type and hospital affiliation. Once you find a provider, call their office to verify general information (e.g., their location, whether they’re accepting new patients with Medicare and whether you need a referral).

What If My Search Yields No Results on Hospital Compare?

If your search doesn’t yield any results, it could be because of a typographical error or because some types of doctors may not be located close to you. If you need more assistance, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY: 1-877-486-2048.

What Are Some Other Helpful Resources on the Medicare Care Compare Site?

The Hospital Compare website also provides links to other helpful websites, patient checklists and more. View the resource section for more information.

About the Author

Lisa Eramo is an independent health care writer whose work appears in the Journal of the American Health Information Management Association, Healthcare Financial Management Association, For The Record Magazine, Medical Economics, Medscape and more.

Lisa studied creative writing at Hamilton College and obtained a master’s degree in journalism from Northeastern University. She is a member of the American Health Information Management Association, American Academy of Professional Coders, Society of Professional Journalists, Association of Health Care Journalists and the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

Lisa currently resides in Cranston, Rhode Island with her wife and two-year-old twin boys.

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