Steven Littlehale

Post-acute providers have improved across a broad range of quality measures, according to a comprehensive report released by the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care.

In preparing the report, analytics firm PointRight considered measures of quality tracked by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Providers improved outcomes in 13 of 15 measures — such as pain, pressure ulcers and pneumonia vaccination — between 2011 and the second quarter of 2012. However, incontinence worsened for long-stay residents, and the influenza immunization measurement rate also dropped.

CMS tracks outcomes almost exclusively, providing little insight into care is actually provided, noted PointRight Chief Clinical Officer Steven Littlehale. However, he said, “The improvement of so many key indicators of quality for a sustained period of time is significant.”

A “key chapter” of the report addresses standardizing assessment of post-acute care, which AQNHC President Alan Rosenbloom said is an important part of improving continuity of care and reforming payment methods. The chapter looks at the Continuity Assessment Record and Evaluation (CARE) program, created by Congress in 2005 to standardize assessment items across various post-acute settings. The chapter was written by Barbara Gage, Ph.D, fellow and managing director at The Engleberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution.

“Reliability testing for CARE showed positive results that are consistent with reliability standards used for previous CMS-mandated patient assessment instruments, suggesting that these items can be used in each setting and be reliable enough for payment and quality monitoring purposes,” wrote Gage.

The report was released Monday. Click here for the full document.