Similar to what Lisa is doing for our senior living readers, I will be contributing a monthly blog to discuss topics and issues on the skilled nursing side of things. I’ll brief you on key themes I’m hearing from providers, regulatory updates and discussions, and any other topics that are important to you.
For my first blog, I wanted to cover some recent news to come out around the Nursing Home Compare tool on Medicare.gov, the consumer-facing site that residents and families use to evaluate and compare doctors, hospitals and other health care providers.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that it intends to combine and standardize its eight separate Compare websites: Nursing Home, Hospital, Home Health, Dialysis Facility, Long-Term Care Hospital, Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility, Physician and Hospice. The new ‘Medicare Care Compare’ tool, according to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, “…will offer Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers and other users a consistent look and feel, providing a streamlined experience to meet their individual needs in accessing information about health care providers and care settings.”
Most provider groups, including the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and Leading Age, support the move and are looking forward to providing input on the development of the new site. David Gifford, Chief Medical Officer for AHCA, told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News that the group applauds CMS for taking action, but “also urges [them] to look at making sure the same information is available for all providers.”
Similarly, Janine Finck-Boyle, LeadingAge’s Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, says the initiative is a great way to incorporate the resident’s voice on the site. However, LeadingAge hopes CMS will reconsider the open-palmed “abuse” icon on the Nursing Home Compare website, as it is often “misleading” and counterproductive for consumers.
Both groups are also in favor of a patient/resident satisfaction measure, which they’ve long advocated for on the current Nursing Home Compare site. Although some of the other Compare sites include a satisfaction rating, for skilled nursing facilities, the devil will be in the details when it comes to measuring satisfaction, what to include and how to pay for it. The next step is finding a common measure that all providers agree upon.
Additionally, we will need to find a way to handle different resident populations across facilities. For example, residents with dementia or other cognitive or physical impairments that would not be able to meaningfully participate in the process.
Another provider concern is additional requirements that create duplicative processes or additional, burdensome time and effort.
All in all, there is one thing that everyone, including the consumer advocacy groups, agree on. And that’s the importance of satisfaction data to support providing patient-centered care. Personally, I am excited about both of these initiatives since they promote better care and improve the experience for the consumer.
I’ll keep you up to speed on any developments around these changes. In the meantime, please feel free to send me any topics you would like to see me cover in my monthly column. Click here to contact me!