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Empire Tool Helps Users Compare Hospital Quality

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NU Online News Service, Oct. 13, 2004, 4:03 p.m. EDT

The old-fashioned way to find a great hospital is to ask a nurse.[@@]

Now Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, New York, is trying to give patients a more systematic way to find good hospitals. It is offering health plan members access to Hospital IQ, a Web-based hospital-selection tool that draws on a detailed care quality database.

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Users can find the number of patients treated for more than 170 different conditions, such as abdominal aortic aneurysms, at individual hospitals. Users also can get hospital-by-hospital information about complication rates and average lengths of stay for specific procedures.

Empire Blue, a unit of WellChoice Inc., New York, has been testing the tool since 2002.