The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has unveiled its online Care Compare tool that redesigns the agency’s eight quality reporting sites into a single resource, including Hospice Compare.
CMS “Compare” websites are intended to aid Medicare beneficiaries in choosing a health care provider based on publicly reported quality data, among other information. Patients can view quality and patient satisfaction scores, cost information as well as data on the providers’ service volume and other metrics.
“A free and vibrant health care market is one in which patients have what they need to make informed decisions based on cost and quality,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “By aggregating all eight of CMS’ quality tools into a single interface, patients can easily research different providers and facilities before they entrust themselves to their care. Today’s launch of Care Compare is the next step in fulfilling our eMedicare promise. Our administration is committed to ensuring our tools are robust and beneficial to patients.”
This move will apply to hospice organizations as well as hospitals, nursing homes, home health care organizations, dialysis facilities, long-term care hospitals, physician practices, and inpatient rehabilitation facilities.
Referring organizations, as well as patients and families, are paying increasing attention to quality data when choosing a hospice. These numbers will also be critical in demonstrating a provider’s value proposition to private payers in programs like Medicare Advantage. CMS will test the inclusion of hospice in the value-based insurance design model starting in 2021, often referred to as the Medicare Advantage hospice carve-in.
Hospices currently are required to submit data to two CMS systems. The Hospice Item Set contains nine publicly reported quality measures. In the second measurement system, Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS), surveys are sent to the family after the patient has passed away to gauge their satisfaction with the care their family member received. The survey vendor contacts the family by phone or mail approximately 42 days after the end of the month in which the patient died.
The survey’s 47 questions indicate the family’s perception of hospice performance on 11 metrics such as hospice team communication, symptom management, emotional and spiritual support, patient and caregiver training, and whether the family would recommend the hospice, among other data points.
The launch of Care Compare is a part of a larger CMS plan called the eMedicare initiative that the agency first launched in 2018 to enhance and increase information available online to beneficiaries.
“Our intent is not to replace traditional channels that beneficiaries trust and depend on, but to improve and enhance them with the emerging digital options to create a user-centered, seamless consumer experience,” Verma said.