It’s been a year since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) launched Hospice Compare, a website designed to help consumers find and compare hospice agencies based on the quality of care they deliver to patients.
While the site has encouraged patients and their families to get involved in their care choices, it’s put greater pressure on hospice providers to ensure they are consistently delivering, tracking and demonstrating high-quality care.
With quality scores on the line, it’s important to take a hard look at what procedures you have in place to collect and report on quality data. As you look at ways to improve your standing on Hospice Compare, keep these four actions top of mind:
Be proactive. Take advantage of the Hospice Compare preview reports to regularly review your quality metrics—and raise concerns with CMS if needed. The reports are available during a 30-day preview period prior to being displayed on Hospice Compare. This is important because it will give you a chance to see where you stand each quarter (and measure improvements over time). It will also give you an opportunity to address any issues with CMS if information is inaccurate. Don’t delay, however, as any requests for CMS review must be made during the 30-day preview period.
Be patient. Hospice Compare is not updated in real time. The data currently reported can go back as far as 2016, meaning that any improvements you’ve made to boost Hospice Compare data will take time to be reflected publicly. Ensuring long-term success on the site is not a quick fix; it’s about making lasting changes in how you deliver and manage care. However, the effort you invest today will ultimately put you in a position to consistently score well and become the provider of choice in your community.
Leverage technology. Hospices must be able to show a patient is declining as expected and symptoms are being managed appropriately. The inability to do so could lead to lowered ratings, a loss of hospice recertification or other penalties and fines. Effectively tracking patient care requires EMR software that delivers hospice-specific views into a patient’s end-of-life status. Make sure your software can provide these insights at both the patient and population level—which will allow clinicians and staff to quickly identify issues and put the right interventions in place. It should also streamline the reporting process. For instance, hospice software that automates HIS file batching and submission saves time and reduces the potential for error. Hospice staff should be able to use dashboards to proactively track data and download/upload forms to Medicare in a few simple steps.
Stay vigilant. For agencies to continue meeting reporting requirements, it is essential to remain on top of changes and updates from CMS. Be sure to follow official alerts, emails and other correspondence from the agency. Your EMR provider should also be a valuable resource for following the latest updates and tools to help you track, document and report on quality measures. Knowing what is going on with Hospice Compare is important, particularly since the website experienced some glitches over the last year. However, CMS is continually adjusting and adding to the website. This year, CAHPS survey data was added and there is speculation that CMS will incorporate a star rating system, similar to Home Health Compare. While there are no concrete plans for now, these changes should be on your radar, as they may impact your approach to tracking and reporting on quality measures.
To learn how hospices providers can use data to improve patient care, ensure compliance and drive revenue growth, read our guide: Five Useful Hospice Data Insights You Need to Know Now.