Home Health Patient Experience of Care Star Ratings Released by CMS

Quality: It is Written in the Stars

On January 28, 2016 CMS released the first Home Health Care Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HHCAHPS) Survey star ratings on Home Health Compare.

Click here to view the CMS media release>

The HHCAHPS survey tool seeks to evaluate patients’ experiences with home health agencies (HHAs) using data from clients (or the family or friends of clients) that have been cared for by the agency. The HHCAHPS Survey star ratings report clients’ experiences of care ranging from one star to five stars. Five stars is the highest rating, reflecting the best client experience.
The HHCAHPS survey tool was designed to meet three broad CMS goals:

  • To produce comparable data on the client’s perspective that allows objective and meaningful comparisons between home health agencies on care and services important to consumers.
  • To create incentives for agencies to improve their quality of care.
  • To enhance public accountability in health care by increasing the transparency of the quality of care provided.

Previously, consumers have had access to Quality of Patient Care star ratings for Home Health Agencies (HHAs). These star ratings summarize home health agencies’ performance on nine quality measures that indicate how well they assist their patients in regaining or maintaining important functional abilities and how frequently they adhere to evidence-based processes of care.

The addition of the HHCAHPS Survey star ratings to the Home Health Compare website offers clients and their family members another tool to inform their choices about which HHAs in their community are scoring well based on client feedback. The Home Health Compare website now offers consumers the ability to view five HHCAHPS Survey star ratings including:

  • Care of Patients
  • Communication Between Providers and Patients
  • Specific Care Issues
  • Overall Rating of Care provided by the HHA
  • Survey Summary star rating

It is imperative that HHAs take an active role in assuring that the HHCAHPS survey results for their agency reflect the excellent care and service they are delivering to their clients.

Helpful Tips for Home Health Agencies:

  • HHAs should review their survey results before they are published on Home Health Compare and notify the HHCAHPS coordination team if they have questions, comments or concerns about the accuracy of their reported results. CMS publicly reports HHCAHPS Survey results for each HHA on a quarterly basis. Each HHA’s results are available to the HHA to review on the HHCAHPS website before they are publicly reported on Home Health Compare.
  • HHAs should review their Home Health Admission Packet which is given to the client at the time of admission to home health services. Be sure to include a statement about the HHCAHPS survey that encourages the client to respond to the survey when they receive it. Consider adding language similar to the following:
    • “Our agency has contracted with a vendor who is approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to perform mandatory Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys. If Medicare or Medicaid is paying for your home health care, our vendor may contact you by mail or telephone regarding your experience and satisfaction with our agency. Our customers are very important to us. Please ask questions if something is unclear regarding our services or the care you receive or fail to receive. Our agency may also contact you by mail to assess our care or to check on the services we are providing. We will not ask the same questions included in the HHCAHPS survey. Your answers will help us improve our services and ensure that we meet your needs and expectations.”
  • Provide training to your staff members regarding the questions that will be asked of the client in the HHCAHPS survey. An understanding of the survey questions will focus the home health team members on these key areas as they provide care and service to the client. Pay particular attention to assuring the team is:
    • Informed and up-to-date about the client’s care;
    • Asking about client pain and taking action to alleviate pain as appropriate;
    • Teaching the client about the purpose for taking their prescription medications, when to take the medications, and the potential side effects of the medications;
    • Arriving at the client’s home in a timely manner;
    • Treating the client gently, with courtesy and respect;
    • Explaining things in a manner the client can understand and then listening carefully to what the client has to say;
    • Responding to client phone calls, questions and requests in an expedient manner.
  • Encourage the Home Health team members during their care and service to the clients to use words that are similar to those used in the HHCAHPS survey. For example, after conducting a medication review, reconciliation and client teaching state, “I want to be sure that you understand the reason you are taking each medication, when you should take each medication and the potential side effects you may experience as a result of taking the medications.” Or if asking questions of the client’s health history, state, “I want to make sure our home health team members are informed and up-to-date regarding your care.”

Sources:;; Home Health Compare

Need more information or assistance?  Contact us.



Lisa Abicht-Swensen, M.H.A.

Director of Home Care and Hospice