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Patient Satisfaction News

CMS Introduces Home Health Patient Satisfaction Star Ratings

These patient satisfaction ratings are a part of CMS's bigger effort to increase healthcare transparency.

- Home healthcare facilities are now being rated on patient satisfaction and patient engagement scales.

CMS home healthcare star ratings

Late last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) posted its star rating system for home healthcare on its survey. These ratings are determined by patients’ answers on the Home Health Care Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Performance Score (HHCAHPS) Survey.

The HHCAHPS survey, which is also administered in several other facilities across the care continuum, measures patient experience and satisfaction following a care encounter. The scores from the HHCAHPS survey are then translated into a star rating system across five different categories, and the results are posted online. Patients are then able to compare the results for different facilities on the database across their state and against the national average ratings.

In total, there are 11,000 agencies with data on the home health comparison website, and about 6,000 of them have patient engagement and patient experience star ratings.

The different patient engagement categories on which home health providers are scored include care of patients, communication between providers and patients, specific care issues, overall rating of care provided by the home health agency, and survey summary star rating.

The overall rating of care star rating is determined by a single question on the survey in which patients holistically score the level of care they received through the home health agency. The survey summary star rating is determined by averaging the star ratings of the four previous categories.

These star ratings provide patients with peer testimony regarding the quality of care other patients received. By cluing in consumers about the quality of the product or service for which they will be paying, CMS hopes that providers will be held more accountable for their patient engagement and patient satisfaction strategies.

Providing ample access to patient satisfaction data in itself also increases patient engagement. When patients access the star ratings, they experience increased buying power; they are being equipped to make informed decisions about where they will receive their care, thus empowering them in their healthcare decisions.

Such was one of the primary goals of establishing the HHCAHPS surveys and making accessible, comparable star ratings available online.

“Having the HHCAHPS Survey star ratings on Home Health Compare helps patients and their families make more informed health care decisions and encourages home health agencies to strive for higher levels of quality and patient experience,” said CMS Deputy Administrator and Chief Medical Officer Patrick Conway, M.D., MSc. “We hope patients and their families find this information helpful and visit our other provider comparison websites.”

CMS also maintains that these star ratings highlight their commitment to transparency in healthcare by providing candid and honest patient-generated ratings of their providers and home health agencies.

“Today’s announcement on Home Health Compare is the latest example of how CMS is committed to transparency and helping patients and their family members make informed health care decisions through an initiative to simplify the quality of care information across all CMS Compare websites,” CMS wrote in a statement.

CMS strives to increase transparency across all areas of care. Starting in 2006, CMS began implementing these rating systems to assess patient satisfaction with their care. Since then CMS has expanded the ratings. In addition to the home health ratings, the agency has star ratings for nursing home care, physicians, dialysis services, and hospitals.

Publishing the home health star ratings is also a part of healthcare’s triple aim of better care, better spending, and better overall health of patients.