Practical Steps Can Lead Your HHA to a 5-Star CMS Rating

Hint: Set Measurable Goals and Leverage Technology

Being a successful Home Health Agency (HHA) today means not only achieving patient satisfaction but also juggling all the reports used to calculate your agency’s Quality of Patient Care Star Rating. These ratings are published on the home health care (HHC) website and used by consumers seeking care, skilled healthcare workers seeking employment, and hospitals seeking the best referrals for post-acute care. In other words, your agency’s reputation depends on these ratings.

Although data reporting is complex for HHAs, there are specific ways to peel back the jargon and understand what exactly the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is looking for, says healthcare expert Melissa Abbott in her live audio conference with AudioEducator. By following specific strategies, you can set your agency up for success.

During her presentation on improving your HHA’s outcomes in 2018, Abbott helps you determine what areas are top priority within your agency, as well as how to focus your staff’s efforts to gain your goal of a 5-star rating.

8 Measures to Consider

To better understand star ratings, it’s helpful to clarify what qualifies an HHA for these scores. According to CMS, in order to be eligible to receive Quality of Patient Care Star Ratings, your agency must:

  • Be Medicare certified for 6+ months
  • Generate enough data for 5 of the 8* quality measures used to calculate the ratings

By “generating enough data” for the quality measures, CMS means that your agency must complete 20+ quality episodes of care during the reporting period. CMS defines a quality episode of care as a matching pair of OASIS assessments (admission + discharge) for each patient.

* Note: Previously, there were 9 measures in the OASIS ratings methodology, but CMS announced that one of the process measures (see which below) will be obsolete come next month. Requirements for your HHA did not drop accordingly, so you’ll still have to complete 20+ quality episodes of care for 5 of the following measures:

Process Measures:
1. Timely Initiation of Care
2. Drug Education on all Medications Provided to Patient/Caregiver
3. Influenza Immunization Received for Current Flu Season (*to be removed April 2018)

Outcome Measures:
4. Improvement in Ambulation
5. Improvement in Bed Transferring
6. Improvement in Bathing
7. Improvement in Pain Interfering with Activity
8. Improvement in Shortness of Breath
9. Acute Care Hospitalization

4 Steps to a 5-Star Rating

Although your head may be dizzy from all the data you’re required to submit, there are very concrete actions your agency can take to avoid getting overwhelmed. A crucial step is to be realistic and accept that this may be a long-term project, celebrating the achievement of incremental goals as you continue to work towards the big picture.

Specific actions your agency can take, as mentioned in a guide published by Home Health Care News, are:

  • Hold employees accountable: Provide regular training on OASIS for your staff, especially when information regarding data reporting changes, so that employees and managers have the tools they need to push improvements forward.
  • Divide and conquer: It’s normal to want to fix everything at once, but this would probably overwhelm your staff and end up doing more harm than good. Instead, stick to just 1 or 2 quality measures in which your agency can excel, and work incrementally to tackle other areas.
  • Offer real-time data: Use technology—especially mobile devices that employees can carry with them as they work—to present real-time information on how your agency stacks up against others. Your staff will have a better idea of what’s going well and what needs improvement. But, of course, it’s not enough to just have the right technology. Training is critical to ensure your staff is using the technology efficiently.
  • Never rest on your laurels: Even if your agency already has 5 stars, you can always benchmark against a peer group to see what areas you could still improve.

Steady Progress Gets the Goal

With your agency’s ratings published online for all to see, it can be easy to get demoralized—not to mention bogged down in data reporting paperwork. That’s why it’s so crucial to set goals and take consistent steps to achieve them. By having a plan in place, says Abbott, you’ll be more likely to develop a skilled and motivated staff working to achieve and maintain that coveted 5-star status.

To join the conference or see a replay, order a DVD or transcript, or read more

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