Have you checked your rating today?

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released preliminary results from its new five-star rating system for dialysis clinics, and is giving providers a month to review the ranking and file any objections.

Dialysis clinics can gain access to their ratings at www.dialysisreports.org, the same website that offers them a preview of their performance scores for the Quality Improvement Program. The ratings will go live in October; dialysis clinics have through August 15 to contest their star rating.

The rating system is similar to those used in restaurant and movie reviews (5 stars for the best, 1 star for the worst) and is calculated based on clinic performance on measures listed on the Dialysis Facility Compare (http://www.medicare.gov/DialysisFacilityCompare/search.html) website. The measures include those from the Quality Improvement Program as well as additional measures that look at transfusion rates, hospitalizations, and mortality.

CMS says the new rating system is aimed at simplifying the data on DFC and giving patients an easier way to measure how a clinic manages their patients. The DFC website has been operational since 2001. The rating system is part of the mandate by the Accountable Care Act to create tools for patient to understand in clear terms how medical professionals perform their job. A similar rating system is in place for nursing homes in the United States.

Related: What’s wrong with the 5-star rating system for the renal community

 “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,” 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 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.

Dialysis providers can review the current reports generated by CMS each quarter before the information is displayed on Dialysis Facility Compare.

CMS held a webinar on July 10 to explain the details of the rating system; a replay of that program will be available soon at CMS’s Medicare Learning Network at www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/NPC/National-Provider-Calls-and-Events.html. The slides from the Web Ex can be downloaded here.