CompareMaine Healthcare Transparency Website

Enhancing healthcare transparency in Maine

Together with the Maine Health Data Organization and the Maine Quality Forum (MQF), we developed, a user-friendly healthcare transparency website and one of the only in the nation to present quality ratings alongside cost information. Consumers can compare the costs and quality of more than 220 procedures at over 280 facilities in the state.


CompareMaine has been recognized nationally by consumers and healthcare professionals as a leading healthcare transparency website.

The combination of cost and quality data helps consumers make healthcare decisions that provide them with the highest value. 

  • Data Collection and Analysis
  • Data Design
  • Data Warehousing
  • Reporting
  • Dissemination

Understanding consumer audiences

The Maine Health Data Organization (MHDO) sought to enhance the content and the volume of healthcare cost and quality information available to Maine consumers. With funding from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and in collaboration with another state agency, the Maine Quality Forum, MHDO engaged HSRI to help overhaul its healthcare transparency site.

Working together, and with HSRI partners NORC and Wowza, we combined our understanding and experiences with the complexities of healthcare data with our understanding of the consumer audience. Our goal was to develop a healthcare transparency website that pulled directly from available claims data, but where the information would:

  • Be easy to understand
  • Match what consumers care about
  • Be actionable, relevant and timely
  • Contain evidenced-based quality measures
  • Help consumers identify high-value options
  • Empower consumers to be healthcare advocates
  • Be easy to use on computers, tablets and phones
  • Be 508 compliant and accessible to all users, regardless of disability status 

Getting direct input from consumers and healthcare professionals

When designing CompareMaine, we sought and used input from consumers and healthcare professionals. With MHDO, we convened a Consumer Advisory Group that met regularly to discuss key design elements, best practices, supporting content, and data methodologies. Focus groups and website usability studies were used to vet working prototypes with that group, as well as with other consumers and healthcare professionals, and we used the findings to enhance the user interface, experience and understanding.

We also sought input from healthcare professionals, administrators at healthcare facilities, and payers. All were given the opportunity to review the data for the site and contact us with any questions, concerns or corrections before it went live.

The results

CompareMaine was one of the first state-based public reporting websites in the country that provides standardized costs for selected services, leveraging data from the state’s all-payer claims database. Since the launch in October 2015, several new facilities and procedures have been added to the website, as well as enhancements to improve the overall user experience and understandability.

CompareMaine has had more than 210,000 pageviews. Support from the state of Maine, as well as from healthcare facilities and professionals, have helped build awareness of the site, the addition of new procedures, and momentum for continued healthcare transparency reform in Maine.

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CompareMaine shows the average cost of common health care procedures at different facilities in Maine. Users can also see patient experience ratings and see how Maine hospitals compare on patient safety.

The use of robust and timely data sources, combined with best practices in healthcare transparency and web design and development, has resulted in CompareMaine receiving national attention and accolades.

  • Consumer Reports ranked it as the second best standalone tool from a group that included national players.
  • Catalyst for Payment Reform gave the site one of only 3 As in the 2016 Report Card on State Price Transparency.
  • The National Association of Health Data Organizations gave the site the 2016 Innovation in Data Dissemination Award.

The data are also being shared by journalists who are helping to spread the word about the wide range in costs of services around the state:

Using this website [CompareMaine] and making decisions based on the information it provides is one of the best ways for patients to engage and take responsibility for their own health care. This website gives patients choices.

CompareMaine Consumer Advisory Group Member


Maine Health Data Organization

Maine Quality Forum

Project Partner(s):

NORC at the University of Chicago

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