Medicare Star Ratings Explained
When you need home health care—and quick!—it can be tough to navigate the wealth of information at your fingertips and determine what’s important (and what’s not-so-important).
Medicare’s comprehensive star-rating system keeps home health agencies accountable in all aspects of care, assessing everything from communication practices to caregivers’ punctuality on a quarterly basis – and they’re a great tool for you, the potential client!
But before you can use the Medicare star rating system to your advantage, you must understand how it works and what it means for you. Each home health agency receives multiple star ratings:
Quality of Patient Care Star Rating
The quality of patient care star rating incorporates nine different care measures, including managing daily activities, managing pain and treating symptoms, treating wounds and preventing pressure sore (bed sores), preventing harm, and preventing unplanned hospital care. These care measures are broken up into two categories:
Process of Care
These measures include timely initiation of care, medication reconciliation and education for patients and caregivers, and ensuring that each patient receives the flu shot for that season. These are crucial for several reasons:
- Timely initiation of care is especially important, as a gap in care can complicate your recovery and land you back in the hospital.
- Medication reconciliation involves assessing the list of medications prescribed by all of your doctors and comparing it with the medications that you are currently taking. This ensures that there are none missing, no duplicates, and no conflicting medications.
In short, process of care measures take a look at how often an agency provided the recommended care for its patients, which is important information for potential clients, like you.
Outcome of Care
These measures assess how well and how often an agency improves the health of their patients by increasing their mobility levels and helping them reach their goals.
These measures evaluate how often patients…
- Were active with less pain
- Experienced less shortness of breath
- Demonstrated improved ability to move around
- Were able to get in and out of bed
- Were able to bathe themselves
Acute care hospitalization rates are also taken into account. The fewer instances of patient readmission to the hospital, the better a home health agency’s star rating.
This rating sums up a home health agency’s effectiveness in providing timely, effective care. It tells you how likely they are to promptly begin care, keep you out of the hospital, and help you stay mobile, independent, and safe.
Patient Survey Star Ratings
Patient survey star ratings compile feedback about an agency’s patient care, communication between providers and patients, and specific care issues.
According to Medicare.gov, “The HHCAHPS (Home Health Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) star ratings were developed to make it easier to use the information on Home Health Compare and to spotlight excellence in healthcare quality.” The survey includes questions like…
- “How often were you treated as gently as possible by your caregiver(s)?”
- “When you contacted their office, how long did it take to get the help or advice you needed?”
- “How often did your caregiver(s) explain things in a way that is easy to understand?”
Since an independent organization conducts these surveys, patients are free to provide honest assessments. This makes the patient survey star rating a reliable source of information when choosing a home health agency.
Why Medicare Star Ratings Matter
The home health agency you choose can be the difference between recovery and readmission. Medicare star ratings show you how a home health agency will affect your health, recovery, mobility, and quality of life in your home. That’s why Medicare star ratings should be the first thing you look at when selecting a home health agency. Now that you have the facts, head over to Medicare’s Home Health Compare to see how your local home health agencies stack up.
If you are in immediate need of home health care services, we would love to help you.
A Care Connection Home Health consistently surpasses local, state, and national averages in all aspects of home health care. We have received Medicare’s 5-Star Highest Quality rating and continue to rank among the top 25% of Medicare-certified agencies in the United States. We pride ourselves in initiating care within 24-48 hours (or sooner!) in order to keep you mobile, comfortable, and safe in your own home.
Give us a call at (904) 899-5520 or schedule a complimentary consultation.