Star Search: CMS Imposes Ratings on Dialysis Compare Site

The Dialysis Facility Compare (DFC) website will now include a star-rating system, which will allow users to further compare facilities on the CMS-run website, according to an announcement made by CMS. The one-to-five star system will indicate “excellence in health care quality” and summarize performance data, said CMS on the press release. This is the third CMS website to adopt the star rating system; Nursing Home Compare and Physician Compare already have the star-ratings in place.

Rating System

The DFC website allows beneficiaries to directly compare facilities providing dialysis services. With the imposition of the five-star rating system, the comparison will be enhanced as the stars, which will range from one to five, will indicate quality of care and services. Specifically, nine different quality measures will be used to determine the star ratings, yet CMS has noted its intention to add additional measures in the future. CMS explained the reasoning behind the adoption of the rating system noting several factors including that the system would: (1) help consumers of dialysis services make more informed health care decisions; (2) release transparent and easily understandable data in an effort to increase public reporting as part of the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148); (3) respond to the call for more quality measure improvement data; and (4) provide patient and consumer driven content pursuant to the efforts described in the Administration’s Digital Government Strategy.  

CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner described the rating system this way: “Star ratings are simple to understand and are an excellent resource for patients, their families, and caregivers to use when talking to doctors about health care choices.”

DFC

Perhaps because such websites that allow comparison of providers’ services have been criticized in the past, this rating system is not only being adopted, but CMS also announced an update to data supporting individual DFC quality measures (see CMS’ compare websites need to be more beneficiary friendly, November 19, 2014). In conjunction with the announcement to impose the star-rating system, CMS also announced its intention to “add the Standardized Readmission Ratio (SRR) for dialysis facilities to the publicly reported quality outcome measures available on the Compare website.”

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