News, Skilled Nursing Facility

Nursing Home Compare lacks relevant information for short-stay patients, evidence suggests

Evidence collected by Harvard researchers Brian E. McGarry and David Grabowski suggests that information provided on the Nursing Home Compare website, a tool created by CMS to inform consumers about the quality of care and services being delivered by skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes through a data-driven, five-star ranking system, is more applicable to long-stay patients seeking post-acute care, leaving short-stay patients with little to base their decision off of.

McGarry and Grabowski included their findings in a blog post published on Health Affairs, which show that only 11 of the quality measures that determine a facility’s five-star rating are relevant to the services short-stay patients would receive. This limits the useful information available for patients and families seeking rehabilitative services.
Additionally, McGarry and Grabowski report that users of the site aren’t able to determine what percentage of residents in a facility are short-stay versus long-stay, leaving consumers with a lack of information regarding what type of services a particular facility specializes in. The researchers also make the point that, despite CMS’ emphasis on creating a more homelike environment in long-term care facilities, the site also lacks information about several areas that consumers are likely to consider before making a choice regarding amenities, setting, and culture.

“For example, the website gives no information about the amenities provided by a facility, the physical setting where care is delivered and a patient resides, the culture and care philosophy of the agency, the ability of the facility to coordinate with acute and primary care providers, and the availability of physicians and nurse practitioners on site,” write the researchers.

To improve upon these gaps in pertinent information, McGarry and Grabowski suggest that CMS separate data relating to long-stay and short-stay residents on the site, that the site include information regarding amenities, clinical services, and resident satisfaction reviews, and that awareness of the site’s availability be increased. It’s predicted that these changes will help alleviate the stressful process of choosing a post-acute setting upon hospital discharge, which often doesn’t allow time for in-person facility visits or extensive evaluation of a consumer’s options.

McGarry and Grabowski are not the only ones to suggest improvements for the Nursing Home Compare site. In a report published by the OIG last November, the agency found several inconsistencies with the site and suggested that CMS make changes to create a more user-friendly and accurate experience.