How do consumers find the quality of hospice care that best suits their needs?
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) answered this question by unveiling its hospice comparison site, Hospice Compare. Hospice providers should take careful note of how they are rated on the website.
The Hospice Compare website is designed to help consumers find a hospice agency by allowing them to compare providers based on the quality of care that they deliver to patients.
Consumers can conduct their search by looking up specific hospice agencies, or refining their search based on zip code, city or state. They can compare up to three hospice companies at once and see how they measure up against each other, as well as against a national average rating based on information submitted by 3,876 hospice care providers.
Measuring your hospice
As an operator, how can you ensure the success of your hospice under Hospice Compare? First, it’s important to consider the metrics being used. Hospices are rated on a five-star scale based on data they submit for the quality reporting program for hospices (HQRP), which is composed of two data sources—the Hospice Item Set (HIS) and the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) survey.
CAHPS data is collected from surveys the hospice provider sends to family members, who are asked to report on their experiences based on eight measures outlined by CMS, such as hospice team communication, getting help in a timely manner, being treated with respect, receiving emotional/religious support and more.
HIS data is compiled from a set of data elements derived from the patient record. These include the following:
Treatment Preferences – CMS looks at whether patients and their caregivers were invited to discuss treatment preferences, including hospitalization and resuscitation. Establishing treatment options with hospice staff is key to ensuring patients get the care they require—and prefer—at the end of life.
Beliefs and Values – Likewise, hospices are being measured on whether they’re taking patients’ religious and/or spiritual beliefs and values into account. If a patient has a specific desire, is the hospice meeting his/her needs?
Pain Management – If not addressed, pain can get in the way of daily activities and distress both patients and their families. CMS looks at whether patients are being properly checked and assessed for pain in a timely and thorough manner. Hospice staff need to be vigilant about collecting information about pain, including its location, duration and severity.
Shortness of Breath – Shortness of breath is a common issue, and hospices are being measured on their ability to identify and quickly treat these symptoms.
Opioid Pain Medication – Opiates are often prescribed for terminally ill patients to manage pain. However, these drugs can cause side effects, i.e. constipation and/or other issues for the patient, so CMS is tracking its use.
Reporting on the data
The second component to your success is technology. As mentioned earlier, hospice providers must submit HIS data to CMS – which means it’s more important than ever to ensure your agency has the right tools and processes in place to collect and document every aspect of patient care.
EMR software plays an important role in this process, and can help improve an agency’s standing by enforcing compliance and ensuring accurate and complete documentation. Optima Hospice, for example, has built-in safeguards that provide hard stops and alerts to ensure documentation is completed in a timely manner. It also includes hospice-specific workflows that guide clinicians through all the required forms and documentation – making it easy to chart patient-specific data, raise issues and set goals that are aligned with the patient care plan.
Many hospices still rely on paper-based processes, but this will be increasingly difficult to manage with the greater accountability and transparency required by CMS. Consider the benefits of EMR software for your agency and what capabilities you need to improve the quality of care, so you can continue to thrive and grow in the era of Hospice Compare.
To understand how EMR software can help your agency, download our eBook: Seven Ways the Right Hospice EMR Solution Can Reduce Risk and Give You Peace of Mind