How Patient Communications Can Help Your Agency’s Star Ratings

The Importance of Agency Rankings and Ratings
The CAHPS Home Health Care Survey (HHCAHPS) asks patients who receive home health care services about their experiences with home health care agencies, providers, and staff in regards to the following factors:

  • Care of patients
  • Communication between providers and patients
  • Specific care issues
  • Rating of care provided by the agency
  • Willingness to recommend the agency to friends and family

In addition to the HHCAHPS survey results, CMS uses a set of nine quality measures to determine the Star Ratings. These include process of care measures (how the care was delivered) and outcomes measures (how patient health is progressing).

CMS added the HHCAHPS Star Ratings to Home Health Compare to help provide transparency by comparing the quality of care delivered by Medicare-certified home health agencies.  As a result, patients, family caregivers, referral sources (e.g., physicians, hospitals, and SNFs), and payers can make more informed decisions about which agencies to choose for patient care.  In turn, agencies can use the survey results to identify opportunities to improve their delivery of home health care services. Top ratings will also help an agency in recruiting and retaining staff.   And, better rankings — along with achieving five stars — will help agencies strengthen their referral stream from community and institutional sources.

The Role of a Communication Platform
Communication is a critical component of the HHCAHPS assessments.  In the survey, patients are asked about the communication they had with their home health care providers, if the providers had set expectations accordingly, and if the providers had asked about the patient’s medications.   The assessment also includes asking patients about how their providers listened to them, if the patient was treated with respect, and how providers managed patient pain.

A HIPAA-compliant communication platform such as Synzi can help a home health agency better engage patients between home visits, resulting in better outcomes and better star ratings.

  • Using video-based virtual visits, an agency’s clinician can introduce himself/herself to the patient before the initial at-home visit and highlight the expectations for the episode of care. This interaction will help patients and their family caregivers understand the next steps in the transition of care from inpatient to outpatient and also have an improved perception of the care which the agency is delivering.
  • Throughout the episode of care, an agency administrator can program a series of automatic messages which remind the patient about medication adherence, diet and lifestyle recommendations, and upcoming video-based or in-person visits. The ongoing stream of messaging enables the agency to show concern for the patient’s well-being throughout the episode of care and not just during virtual or in-person visits.

The interactive aspect of a HIPAA-compliant communication platform provides the patient with multiple opportunities to raise any potential concerns with the care prior to the patient completing the HHCAHPS surveys.

The Benefits of Ongoing Communication with Your Patients
CMS designed the HHCAHPS Survey star ratings on Home Health Compare to provide patients and family with data which can help inform health care decisions and to inspire home health agencies to improve quality of care and the patient experience.  A virtual care platform that enables ongoing communication can help agencies achieve better outcomes for their patients, higher survey scores, and greater referrals vs. competitors.

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