Visiting Nurse / Hospice Atlanta Blogs

The Importance of CMS Star Ratings

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) uses a five-star quality rating system to measure Medicare beneficiaries’ experience with their healthcare provider. This rating system evaluates the overall performance of the type of services a provider would offer and shows the rating in an easy-to-follow format available online at Home Health Compare.

Visiting Nurse Demonstrates Best Practices in Care at Home – and Raises CMS Rating

As a leading nonprofit provider of home healthcare, long-term care at home, and hospice services, it’s important that our patients and healthcare professionals understand the CMS five-star rating and how it affects everyone. CMS established its home healthcare star rating as a tool to use when choosing a home healthcare provider. It is designed to be a source of authoritative information regarding home care assistance. The CMS star ratings are based on nine measures of quality that give a general overview of performance. The indicators of home healthcare quality are known as quality measures and are divided into categories, such as:

  • Managing pain and treating symptoms
  • Managing daily activities
  • Preventing harm
  • Treating wounds and preventing pressure sores
  • Preventing unplanned hospital care


Over the last year, Visiting Nurse’s home healthcare division has improved its rating to 3 ½ stars, which is above the national average. The improved rating is attributed to improving processes and providing education to the clinical team to ensure best practices are utilized for assessment strategies and care delivery. In addition, we have worked closely with our referral sources to ensure a smooth transition from the inpatient setting to the patient’s home.

Why It’s Important to Patients and Healthcare Providers

Home health agencies play an increasingly important role in caring for homebound patients, especially the elderly. Jordan Rau, a writer for the Kaiser Health News mentioned, “last year 3.4 million Medicare beneficiaries received home health care services, with nurses, aides, and physical and occupational therapists providing treatment.” With home care, it’s not like walking into a nursing home where you can see for yourself and evaluate quality. Assessing quality is both a challenge for patients and their healthcare provider partners, such as physicians and nurses. With the CMS star rating system, patients, family members and guardians have a rating that they can use to evaluate the level and quality of home care.

All around, the federal government’s star rating system for home health agencies is designed to bring clarity to a fragmented yet fast-growing medical industry segment where it’s been difficult to distinguish between the quality of different providers.