With so much regulation and scrutiny affecting the hospice industry, it can feel tough for hospice managers to keep their head above water, much less improve their industry ratings. But even with all the change roiling the industry, home health and hospice consultant Beth Noyce says hospice facilities must keep a laser-sharp focus on standards.
Noyce hosts a conference for ProfEdOnDemand called “Hospice Updates for 2018: Final Rule, Payments, and OIG Audits.” In addition to updated information about the evolution of Hospice Compare into a star-based rating program, the conference covers: payment changes, agency updates affecting compliance measures, areas of increased scrutiny, new quality measures, updates for non-compliance penalties, and what to expect in 2018. It’s aimed at hospice owners, administrators, clinical managers, and marketers.
Hello, Hospice Compare: What You Need to Know
Hospice Compare is a new Medicare program that went into effect in August 2017. The site is a searchable database of providers that reports how a certain facility compares to the national average on factors such as patient preferences and pain management. Current data are from 2014-2015. Data are released quarterly:
- Prior to each quarterly data release, hospice providers can review their quality measure results during a 30-day preview period.
- A provider who believes some reporting is inaccurate may request a review; the request must be made during the 30-day review period.
- Emailed requests must precisely follow a preset format available here.
- Decisions from the agency are sent via email.
Data for the scoring are self-reported, and reporting is voluntary—though facilities who don’t report are levied a 2 percent reduction in Medicare payments.
Hospice Reporting: How do You Compare?
Most hospices did well on the initial reporting, found Stat.
“Scores for the vast majority of hospices were near the top end of the quality range—so good, in fact, that some observers questioned whether consumers will find the data useful for comparison shopping,” as reported in the article, “Most hospices fare well in first public release of Medicare quality scores. “The problem, some hospice experts say, is that hospices have had a long time to perfect CMS’s chosen measures and, as a result, all hospices in many communities scored at least 90% on all measures.”
Heath Care Finance News reported that just 51 home health agencies received a low one-star rating, while more than 2,000 received a top-rated five-star rating. In all, 5,743 agencies reported for this go-round.
Hoping for a Five-Star Rating?
The CellTrak blog offered a list of tips for agencies who want to make it to the five-star level—or at least improve their game:
- Establish a communication plan
- Encourage workers to take and report accurate notes
- Train staff to meet or exceed OASIS expectations
- Encourage feedback from clients
- Use technology to improve reporting, including mobile apps for data input
- Focus on improvement of one measure at a time
- Make your improvement goals SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound
“With prospective clients and insurers using the ratings on Home Health Compare to identify and evaluate home health agencies, five-star ratings must be every agency’s goal,” CellTrak said. “To achieve those goals, agencies must learn to proactively identify areas of improvement and leverage the solutions that will tap into a solid referral stream and ensure an agency’s continued success.”