June 5th, 2017 null Tag Home Health Care

Why the Stars Are Aligned At Amedisys, And How It Happened

by Susan Sender

Back in early 2015, under new leadership, Amedisys pledged anew to committing itself to the cause of clinical excellence. That proved to be good timing.

That same year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) introduced a new system that publicly reports ratings of Medicare-certified home health agencies through its Home Health Compare website. Home Health Compare uses a Star rating between 1 and 5 to show consumers how a home health agency compares to other home health agencies on measurements of their performance. The Star ratings are based on 9 measures of quality that give a general overview of performance.

Those two events – at Amedisys and CMS respectively – recently came together with the news that the average rating Amedisys earned for the 329 home health centers it operates in 34 states is 4.03 Stars for Quality of Patient Care. That’s 15% higher than a year ago. That’s also above the industry average of 3.25.

How Amedisys Improved its Star Ratings

How did Amedisys accomplish this feat? I’ll tell you. But first a little more background here.

As we recently announced, Amedisys has now improved its Star ratings for six straight quarters. Three-fourths of our home health centers (75%) have now achieved a rating of 4 Stars or better, compared to thirty percent (30%) last year. In fact, 58 of our centers rated 4.5 Stars or better, with five of those care centers achieving the maximum 5 Star rating.

As Paul Kusserow, our President and Chief Executive Officer, stated at the time, “No metric better demonstrates our determination to deliver outstanding clinical results than ratings in home health from the all-important CMS Star program.”

Of course, none of this happened by accident. Rather, it originated with our decision in 2015 to forge a strategy to achieve what we call clinical distinction. That meant a companywide focus to provide our clinicians with the education, the training and the tools to continually improve the quality of our patient care.

A Focus on Clinical Distinction

Since then, we’ve followed through and invested in rigorously implementing this strategy. We reorganized, adding new roles to support quality improvement and oversight. We hired a corporate-level Assistant VP of Quality Improvement, a clinical analytics director and regional field vice presidents and area vice presidents of clinical operations. In the process of restructuring, we brought our senior leaders and our resources closer to the clinicians in the field. We fully implemented our software system, Homecare Homebase. We now use quality reporting software from SHP to deliver data to our clinicians. Above all, we’ve created a culture where clinicians feel encouraged to spend more time putting their hands on patients than on paper.

And it’s all paying dividends in the quality of the care we provide. We’re on track for every one of our home health care centers to attain a quality Star rating of 4 or higher by the end of this year. Our July preview shows that we’re still on the upswing. Our Quality of Patient Care Star rating average is 4.13 (over the current 4.03), with 82% (versus the current 75%) of our home health care centers at 4 Stars or higher.

The upshot? Clinical distinction is no longer only a strategy – every day Amedisys is making it a reality.

Susan Sender is the Chief Clinical Officer for Amedisys, a leading provider of home health, hospice and personal care.

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