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Tribune Editorial: Web sites let patients compare hospitals, prices

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Interested in health care?

Several Web sites now let you see how hospitals stack up in the areas of patient care and treatment costs.

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The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey provides hospital-to-hospital comparisons.

The HCAHPS survey asked patients: how well doctors and nurses listened to them, how well their pain was controlled and how clean and quiet their surroundings were, for example. Hospitals are individually identified in the results.

Patients were surveyed once they had returned home from the hospital. The study is different from many other quality assessments in that it measures less-clinical aspects of care not particular to medical condition.

Minnesota survey results are available on the Minnesota Hospital Quality Report (MHQR) Web site at www.mnhospitalquality.org. Nationally, results from more than 2,500 hospitals debuted on March 28 on the Hospital Compare Web site, www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov. Information on both Web sites will be updated quarterly.

OutofPocket.com has launched a new search engine to let consumers look up prices and comparison shop for health care services by collecting prices across different sources.

The enhanced website collects health care price data from multiple sources including provider price lists, consumer contributed content, claims data from businesses, government Medicare data, websites that publish health care prices (hospitals, diagnostic testing facilities, clinics, labs, physician practices), and price transparency tools on public websites.

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The Bush Foundation in St. Paul should be lauded for its $750,000 to help keep large forested tracts of northern Minnesota from subdivision and development.

The grant, to the Blandin Foundation on behalf of Minnesota Forest Legacy Partnership, will help to purchase conservation easements from owners of key industrial forestlands and keep these lands from being developed.

This grant will help "protect some of the most pristine and ecologically significant forests in the state," according to Peggy Ladner, director of The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota.

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