Your future ratings rest in residents' hands

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Emily Mongan
Emily Mongan

Any news story that heralds a something as the “next frontier” in healthcare is probably worth clicking on, right?

Such was the case this morning when this article from Modern Healthcare caught my eye. Its headline proclaims the next frontier in quality measurement to be a rather simple one: “how patients feel.”

That seems straightforward enough. Asking patients or residents how they're feeling, how their treatment is working for them, or if a different course of treatment might be a better fit could all help contribute to higher quality care and happier customers. And that's especially important in healthcare, a sector that's received an almost never-ending stream of programs and initiatives aimed at moving away from fee-for-service and toward value-based reimbursement.

Modern Healthcare's take on patient-reported quality measures revolves largely around hospital-based providers, helping patients gauge whether or not a surgery or procedure would actually benefit them.

But there are lessons here for skilled nursing providers, with a recent report from the Government Accountability Office concluding that adding resident satisfaction ratings to Nursing Home Compare “could be a more direct measure of nursing home satisfaction than other available measures.” The American Health Care Association has also jumped on the resident satisfaction train with a set of measures recently approved by the National Quality Forum.

While measures that capture patient and resident responses seem like a natural — and inevitable — fit for the shift to value-based payment and patient-centered care, there are some roadblocks.

The current electronic infrastructure used to gather quality measures and translate them into payments is lagging behind “the eagerness and optimism” for incorporating patient-reported measures, Modern Healthcare found. There are also questions surrounding how the data could be used to shape providers' practices.

The story also raised the question of subjectivity — a healthcare provider may rule that a procedure or rehabilitation program was successful, but the patient may have a different opinion that could derail a quality rating.

As one expert in the story mused, patient-reported healthcare data is “more an idea whose time is coming for value-based payment than whose time has come.”

So there's no need to overhaul your EHR system or fear how your Five-Star Rating may change with the inclusion of a resident satisfaction survey. Just stay tuned, and know that the “next frontier” is coming.

Follow Emily Mongan @emmongan.

Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.