CMS Releases Home Health Compare “Patient Experience of Care” Star Ratings

In yet another move emphasizing the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) focus on quality health care, the agency has released the first patient experience of care star ratings on Home Health Compare. In a statement by CMS Deputy Administrator and Chief Medical Officer Patrick Conway, M.D., MSc., the release was described as “help[ing] patients and their families make more informed health care decisions and encourag[ing] home health agencies to strive for higher levels of quality and patient experience.” While this is not the first use of star ratings on Home Health Compare, it is the first time that the Home Health Care Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (“HHCAHPS”) survey star ratings will be available for each Medicare-certified home health agency (“HHA”).

Prior to the January 28, 2016, release, patients could only compare performance on individual HHCAHPS items or access summary Quality of Patient Care star ratings. However, now patients can view the following five HHCAHPS Survey star ratings for each HHA, which reflect patient
experiences:

  1. Patient Care
  2. Communication Between Providers and Patients
  3. Specific Care Issues
  4. Overall Rating of Care at the Home Health Agency
  5. Overall Average

The HHCAHPS Survey star ratings range from one to five stars, where five is the highest and reflects a very positive patient experience. Though more than 6,000 HHAs now have patient care experience star ratings, around 5,000 do not yet have enough data to calculate and display star ratings. Periodic updates to Home Health Compare should, however, continue to expand the number of HHAs with star ratings.

The new star ratings are not unlike ratings currently in use on other “Compare” sites, such as Nursing Home Compare, Physician Compare, Dialysis Compare, and Hospital Compare, though the purpose of these star ratings seems to vary from web site-to-web site.

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