- CMS has released its Hospice Compare website to help patients and their families make care decisions based on quality and patient satisfaction data.
CMS is displaying quality of care and patient satisfaction information in an easy-to-understand and transparent mode, all with the goal of empowering patients and their family caregivers to make better decisions about their own healthcare. This will ideally integrate the patient as a key member of the healthcare team.
“The Hospice Compare website is an important tool for the American people and will help empower them in a time of vulnerability as they look for information necessary to make important decisions about hospice care for loved ones,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma in a statement. “The CMS Hospice Compare website is a reliable resource for family members and care givers who are looking for facilities that will provide quality care.”
Patients can use the Hospice Compare website to view quality data for nearly 4,000 hospice centers. Patients can filter data based upon their geographic locations and select care that is close to home.
The tool allows patients and family members to compare different facilities based upon reports about pain management, difficulty and comfort level while breathing, and meeting patient preferences.
These factors reflect the critical differences between hospice satisfaction and patient satisfaction in other care facilities. Patients select hospice care when their conditions become terminal or when patients are nearing the end of life. Hospice providers are supposed to deliver palliative care for pain relief, comfort, and symptom management.
Hospice care providers also often provide emotional support to both patients and family members through grief counseling and other logistical services.
CMS created the Hospice Compare website to meet certain provisions of the Social Security Act which call for quality and satisfaction reporting for hospice providers. CMS collects this data through the Hospice Quality Reporting System (HQRS) and includes data sources such as the Hospice Item Set (HIS) and the Hospice CAHPS survey.
Although the Hospice Compare website does not leverage the star ratings format that CMS uses for several other patient-facing satisfaction rankings, it does work to break down data in a digestible format. Patients can select a number of hospice providers within a certain area and compare them based on patient preference and pain management.
Results for certain patient preference and pain management reports are scored on a 100-percentage point scale. The higher the percentage, the better the score.
Easy-to-understand ranking formats such as this can be extremely helpful for patients and family members making decisions about where to receive care.
“All the literature says the industry needs to do this sort of thing, boiling satisfaction and quality down into one set of measures to make it simple,” said Deloitte’s Center for Health Solutions Managing Director Sarah Thomas in a previous interview.
CMS hosts a number of other healthcare compare websites, including ones for hospitals and nursing homes. The agency also uses a set of star ratings to demonstrate quality and patient satisfaction for patients.
Star ratings are familiar and understandable, the agency claims. Movie and restaurant critics use five-star ratings across the board to demonstrate rankings; doing so in healthcare can also be helpful for patients selecting a provider.
However, according to Thomas, there are some instances where simplistic compare tools – such as the star ratings and techniques deployed on other compare websites – can be reductive to healthcare quality.
Critics say that healthcare is multi-faceted, and includes many different factors to create a quality experience. Boiling that down into five stars (or seven categories scored out of 100 points, in the case of Hospice Compare) could take away from the nuances in healthcare.
It could be useful for patient satisfaction ratings to offer the best of both worlds, Thomas said.
“It’s also helpful for consumers who have the degree of interest in engagement with quality ratings information to be able to dig in,” Thomas concluded. “In a perfect world, consumers could drill down below the five-star ratings to look at the measures that matter most to them, but I also think that a lot of people want a very quick take on hospital quality.”
In the meantime, it would be beneficial for healthcare organizations to understand how to perform well in this quality ratings. These efforts should not center on checking a box; healthcare organizations can target their satisfaction and quality improvement techniques around what the patient population wants and what would be beneficial for ratings.
In doing so, hospitals can meet the needs of their unique patient populations while also driving high quality and patient satisfaction scores.