The University of Michigan Kidney Epidemiology and Cost Center (UM-KECC) is seeking 10-20 people to serve on a technical expert panel to review the methodology developed to produce the Dialysis Facility Compare Star Ratings.

The TEP Charter and Nomination form can be found on the CMS website: http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Quality-Initiatives-Patient-Assessment-Instruments/MMS/TechnicalExpertPanels.html. If you wish to nominate yourself or other individuals for consideration, please complete the form and email it with your CV and letter of interest to: dialysisdata@umich.edu by close of business (5:00pm ET) on March 4, 2015

Project overview
The Medicare Dialysis Facility Compare (DFC) website displays star ratings of dialysis facilities. The star ratings give a broad idea of the quality of care patients with ESRD and their families can expect from dialysis facilities, and provides the ability to compare facilities to each other.  The introduction of these ratings is part of CMS’ plan for all of the Medicare Compare sites to make quality information more accessible to patients, and other key audiences, including providers and policymakers. The goal is to increase knowledge, understanding, usability, and satisfaction with the Compare sites.

UM-KECC uses CMS’ structured and standardized approach to measure development, including steps to ensure input from experts and the public. As part of this effort, UM-KECC is seeking input from individuals with relevant experience and expertise who can provide a variety of perspectives on the methodology behind the star ratings. This group will serve as the ratings’ Technical Expert Panel (TEP).

The TEP is a group of stakeholders and experts who provide input on the development and maintenance of measures for which the contractor is responsible. For this project, TEP members will review the current methodology of the DFC star ratings, and provide feedback on how the methodology could be improved. They will also have the opportunity to provide feedback on how the star ratings are conveyed to the community on the DFC website.

The TEP will represent a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds. Members will be selected for the input they can provide based on their personal experience and training or organizational perspective. Given that the audience for the star ratings is primarily patients; this TEP will have heavy representation from patients and patient advocates.

We anticipate that participants will be divided into two workgroups to ensure that all participants can contribute based on their expertise and experiences.  This structure will also maintain an optimal smaller group size to allow for greater in–depth and focused discussion. We anticipate that the meeting will take place over two days and will include an opening and closing session where the entire group meets to discuss the overarching themes and agenda of the TEP as well as understand the specific issue areas each respective workgroup will be discussing.  The primary focus of TEP workgroup one will be on the star rating methodology; the focus of TEP workgroup two will be to review and discuss public reporting, and patient/consumer needs and goals.  The topics discussed by the TEP workgroups are not expected to be mutually exclusive, but will differ in the type of conceptual and technical detail devoted to issues of methodology, and public reporting and patient/consumer understanding. When completing the letter of interest please indicate in which TEP workgroup(s) you would be willing to participate (Methodology or Public Reporting/Patient and Consumer understanding).

Project objectives
The TEP will evaluate the existing Dialysis Facility Compare star rating methodology and display. Specific objectives include:

1.       Review of the statistical methodology behind the star rating calculations

2.       Review of the measures used in the star ratings

a.       Consider measures for retirement

b.      Consider measures for future implementation

3.       Review the readability and presentation of the star ratings on the DFC website

TEP requirements
A TEP of approximately 10-20 individuals will review measures included in the star ratings and provide input on the star ratings methodology and display. The TEP will be comprised of individuals with the following areas of expertise and perspectives:

  • Subject matter expertise: Subject-matter scientists in nephrology care; clinicians and nurses; consumer testing; communication of star rating systems in  patient perspectives
  • Methodological expertise: statisticians/biostatisticians with expertise in score or scale development, multivariate analysis, risk assessment, latent variable modeling
  • Dialysis facility quality improvement
  • Consumer perspective
  • Patient and caregiver perspectives
  • Purchaser perspective
  • Health care disparities

Potential TEP members must be aware that participation on the panel is voluntary. As such, individuals wishing to participate on the TEP should understand that their input will be recorded in the meeting minutes.  Proceedings of the TEP will be summarized in a report that is disclosed to the general public.  If a participant has disclosed private, personal data by his or her own choice, then that material and those communications are not deemed to be covered by patient-provider confidentiality.  If patient participants (only) wish to keep their names confidential, that request can be accommodated.  Any questions about confidentiality will be answered by the TEP organizers.

All potential TEP members must disclose any current and past activities and interests that may pose a potential conflict of interest for performing the tasks required of the TEP.  All potential TEP members should be able to commit to the anticipated time frame needed to perform the functions required of the TEP.

Patient Nominees
UM-KECC is seeking patients to participate on a TEP.  We are seeking patients who have used and have not used the DFC website, as well as those who are interested in quality reporting to join the TEP.  Many dialysis patients can provide unique and essential input on quality measures based on their own experience and perspective.  Patient nominees should submit a completed and signed TEP Nomination Form and letter of interest as described below but are not required to submit curriculum vitae.

TEP expected time commitment

  • TEP members should expect to come together for one to three teleconference calls prior to the in-person meeting held April 2015, in Baltimore, MD.
  • The in-person meeting (April 2015, final dates to be determined).
  • After the in-person meeting, additional conference calls may be needed.
  • Additional workgroup sessions may be convened 

Required information
A completed and signed TEP Nomination form located in the download section below.The nomination form includes a consent and confidentiality statement.

A letter of interest (not to exceed two pages) highlighting experience/knowledge relevant to the expertise described above. Subject matter and consumer experts should have expertise and experience in quality measure development, and health care consumer rating methodologies. For patients and consumers, experience and knowledge to highlight include years as a dialysis patient (or as a care-giver/family member), interest and familiarity with quality measures, and any participation or service on patient or consumer advocacy or advisory groups. Patients should also identify all other relevant knowledge and experience they believe is important.  When completing the letter of interest please indicate in which workgroup(s) you would be willing to participate (Methodology or Public Reporting/Patient and Consumer understanding).

Curriculum vitae or a summary of relevant experience (including publications) for a maximum of 10 pages. Patients/consumers should also identify all other relevant knowledge and experience they believe is important.  Patient participants may elect to keep their names confidential in public documents.

Patient participants are not required to submit curriculum vitae and may elect to keep their names confidential in public documents.

The Nomination forms and proposed TEP Charter are found in the download section at the bottom of this website.