Majority of hospices fare well in first public release of quality scores: 6 things to know

A majority of hospices across the country fared well in the first public release of Medicare quality scores, causing some experts to question the efficacy of the Hospice Compare tool, according to STAT. 

On Wednesday, CMS officials released quality scores for more than 3,800 hospice providers on the Hospice Compare website. The scores rate the hospices on seven measures including, pain screening, pain assessment, shortness of breath assessment, shortness of breath treatment, opioid-related constipation treatment, if the patient was asked about treatment preferences and if the patient was asked about his or her beliefs and values at the beginning of hospice care, according to the report. 

CMS launched the Hospice Compare website to help patients make informed decisions based on a hospice's performance across the various measures. 

Here are six things to know about how the hospice quality scores:

1. One measure, assessment for pain, had the widest variation between hospices. In particular, 907 hospices scored below 70 percent for assessment of pain and 1,388 scored below 80 percent. 

2. The national average for the other six measures was 93.6 percent.

3. Shortness of breath screening and treatment preferences each had national average quality scores of 98 percent. 

4. Hospice experts argue that hospices have had a long time to perfect the seven measures they were scored on. As a result, consumers may not find the Hospice Compare website useful because the scores for most hospices are similar, according to STAT.  

5. Hospice experts also argue that the measures chosen do not fully reflect the quality of care. Joan Teno, MD, a hospice quality expert at the University of Washington, said it is not enough to simply screen and assess patient pain. In particular, Dr. Teno argues that providers quality scores should depend on other factors as well such as choosing the correct medicine and following up with the patient about the medicine. 

6. CMS will launch a hospice composite score that combines several measures together next year to provide meaningful data to patients and differentiate performance across providers. 

More articles on infection control and clinical quality:

Pediatric long-term care residents most commonly suffer from respiratory tract infections
6 Rhode Island hospitals with top nurse-patient communication scores
Patient oversight can boost hand hygiene compliance: 4 study findings


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