New quality measures for skilled nursing facilities will be introduced in the coming months, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services officials said during an Open Door Forum call for providers Thursday.

Data for six new quality measures — some based on Medicare claims, others on MDS data — will be added to Nursing Home Compare beginning in April. The new measures, bound to make providers’ jobs more complicated, are: 

  • Percentage of short-stay (stays of less than or equal to 100 days) residents who have had an outpatient emergency room visit (Medicare claims-based)

  • Percentage of short-stay residents who were successfully discharged to the community, and did not die or were readmitted to a hospital or skilled nursing facility within 30 days of discharge (Medicare claims-based)

  • Percentage of short-stay residents who were re-hospitalized after SNF admission, including observation stays (Medicare claims-based)

  • Percentage of short-stay residents who made made improvement in physical function and locomotion (MDS data-based)

  • Percentage of long-stay (stays of greater than or equal to 101 days) residents whose ability to move independently worsened (MDS-based)

  • Percentage of long-stay residents who received an anti-anxiety or hypnotic medication (MDS-based)

“We believe that these measures will be useful to consumers and to nursing homes as they provide important information about quality of care outcomes that we really haven’t been able to cover previously on Nursing Home Compare,” said Ed Mortimore, technical director of survey and certification at CMS, during the call.

Five of the six new measures will be phased in to the Five-Star Quality Ratings systems over a nine-month period, beginning this July. The measure on anti-anxiety and hypnotic medication use will be left out of the Five-Star system due to concerns about specificity and appropriate thresholds for star ratings.

The information used for the new measures will use a year of data up to the beginning of July 2015. Providers will receive a preview of their data for the measures in April, Mortimore said.

Click here to read more about the new quality measures.

The Open Door Forum call also included a push for providers to voluntarily submit electronic staffing data ahead of the July 1 start of mandatory filing, as well as an update on the government’s research into alternative payment methods for SNFs. The ongoing research has been narrowed down to focus on resident characteristics, rather than service use, officials shared.