The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is moving dialysis care into its five-star rating system in October. Similar launches are planned for nursing homes and home health agencies that have CMS-developed “Compare” consumer-directed websites.

The CMS Center for Clinical Standards and Quality has contracted with the University of Michigan Kidney Epidemiology and Cost Center to develop and implement the five star rating program for dialysis facilities. Providers were able to review their facility's rating during the Dialysis Facility Compare preview period in July. CMS held a webinar on July 10 to explain the details; a replay of that program is available at cms.gov/Medicare/Provider-Enrollment-and-Certification/CertificationandComplianc/FSQRS.html.

The rating systems help consumers better understand the information in the Compare websites and make more informed decisions about where to get health care, wrote Patrick Conway, MD, CMS’s Deputy Administrator for Innovation and Quality and Chief Medical Officer, in the agency’s blog on June 18. “The Compare sites are the official CMS source for information about the quality of health care providers, and the star rating system is just one of many ways we’re working to make quality information easier to understand and compare. These ratings are based on established scientific standards of rigor and accuracy.”

CMS’s Our Nursing Home Compare site uses star ratings to compare nursing homes; Physician Compare has just started to include star ratings in certain situations for physician group practices. “The star ratings empower consumers with information to make more informed health care decisions, encourage providers to strive for higher levels of quality, and drive overall health system improvement,” Conway said.