Public input sought for Minn. Dept. of Health's online tool

The state health department is seeking public feedback on a Web-based tool that will help consumers compare hospitals, clinics and outpatient surgery centers for quality.

The tool will allow consumers to search by clinic name and location. Consumers will also be able to search by medical condition to determine which clinics provide the best care at controlling diabetes, for example.

The intent is to make the health care system more transparent and "make that information available to consumers in an understandable kind of fashion," Katie Burns of the Minnesota Department of Health said.

Such data will be increasingly important, state health economist Stefan Gildemeister said.

"Consumers have a greater role in managing their health care; in selecting where they receive health care, in deciding what healthcare to consume," Gildemeister said. "So we're holding them accountable for a greater part of the decision-making and this is one of the tools that consumers need to feel equipped to play that role."

The tool will be part of the same site that will allow Minnesotans to comparison shop for health insurance, known as the insurance exchange, next fall. Health officials are accepting comments until roughly the end of the year.

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