Caregiver holding a resident's hand
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Skilled nursing facilities have an additional tool to measure their own quality improvement efforts under a new change to the quality measures rating domain. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Monday issued a reminder to providers that it plans to implement the quality measure rating threshold changes with the April 2022 refresh. 

The update was first announced in a March 2019 memo but the public health emergency has delayed its implementation.

With the update, CMS will adjust ratings thresholds to raise the expectations for quality, and incentivize continuous quality improvement. The increases are based on the rate of improvement on quality scores since the last revision in February 2015. 

“The adjustments are inevitable; however, the longer CMS waits between updates, the bigger the adjustment would be,” said Jessie McGill, RN, curriculum development specialist for the American Association of Post-Acute Care Nursing. “SNF leadership should use the threshold adjustments with their process improvement plans as a way to measure their own quality improvement efforts.”

Quality measure thresholds will be increased by 50% of the average rate of improvement in the scores.The ratings thresholds will now update every six months. 

“For example, if there is an average rate of improvement of 2%, the QM rating thresholds would be raised 1%,” CMS explained Monday. 

The agency added that the change will reduce the need to have larger adjustments to thresholds in the future. 

McGill said that one of the benefits of a threshold change every six months is that it allows for small adjustments, which helps providers ensure they are still on target with their quality goals. 

“In the facility, we often focus on continual improvement of quality measures. As clinical professionals we know we cannot expect improvement in a process or improvement of quality care without an ongoing quality improvement plan,” McGill told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News on Monday. 

“Likewise, the change to the threshold is how CMS addresses a process of continual improvement in quality measures. So, if a facility has a goal to meet or exceeds the current [quality measure] threshold, the team must also understand that this is not a static target. As facilities across the nation improve, the threshold will be set higher.”