In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare quality assessment, CMS star ratings have emerged as a crucial benchmark for post-acute care providers. These ratings are intended to reflect the quality of care delivered and can significantly impact a facility’s reputation, competitiveness, and reimbursement eligibility. In this pursuit of excellence, innovative solutions like Strata Search have become indispensable tools, empowering post-acute care providers to enhance their CMS star ratings with greater visibility, communication and partnership with their referral sources. Strata Search, by Strata Health solutions, is a nationwide post-acute care database housing customizable provider listings.  

The Complexity of CMS Star Ratings

CMS star ratings serve as a comprehensive evaluation tool, encompassing multiple domains such as clinical outcomes, patient experience, safety measures, and adherence to best practices. Achieving high star ratings requires a nuanced understanding of these metrics and a proactive approach to performance improvement across all aspects of care delivery.  

According to a 2021 NYTimes article, nursing facilities with five-star ratings recorded twice the profit per bed compared to those with three and four-star ratings, while poorly rated facilities were not typically profitable.1 Although CMS star ratings are not perfect, they are considered the gold standard in representing quality data to meet the regulatory requirements.  

Post-acute care providers encounter several challenges in their quest to maintain stellar star ratings. One of the significant hurdles is ensuring accurate and up-to-date information in provider directories. These directories serve as the go-to resource for patients and referring healthcare professionals when selecting post-acute care providers. However, inaccuracies or outdated information can lead to misdirected referrals, which can adversely affect patient outcomes and star ratings. While improvement involves many factors, a tool like Strata Search provides additional details on quality and services to aide in decision-making and support higher scoring. 

Here is how Strata Search can Contribute to Improving CMS Star Ratings:

  1. Patient satisfaction:  Patient engagement has been correlated with greater reports of satisfaction and feedback. Strata Search is a digital marketing tool for providers to showcase their organizations allowing patients freedom to determine their provider of choice. Giving patients visibility into their options empowers them to be informed and in control of their care, which in turn can boost a provider’s star ratings. 
  2. Enhanced coordination of care:  Strata Search facilitates better communication and coordination between the healthcare providers involved in a patient’s care journey. In a recent survey, conducted by Strata Health, 40% of respondents identified communication gaps as one of the most frequent challenges in transitions of care. Strata Search’s communication board provides access to high level communications such as bed availability, staffing updates or changes to services offered. This two-way communication can help ensure patients get the right care, at the right place, at the right time reducing the potential for inappropriate placements and adverse events that can negatively affect star ratings.  
  3. Efficient Resource Allocation: Strata Search’s unique matching algorithm assists discharge planning teams in selecting the most appropriate post-acute care facilities for their patients. Using filters, to curate a list based on criteria such as the insurance and specific care needs of the patient, Strata Search can ensure that resources are allocated efficiently. Identifying the provider that is best suited to both accept and meet the baseline needs of a patient will improve quality metrics and overall star ratings. 

In the increasingly competitive landscape of post-acute care, achieving and maintaining high star ratings is vital for providers seeking to distinguish themselves and attract patients and referrals. Digital provider directories like Strata Search offer a comprehensive solution to the challenges faced by post-acute care providers, empowering them to enhance the quality of care, streamline referrals, and improve patient outcomes. By leveraging these platforms effectively, post-acute care providers can not only boost their star ratings but also solidify their reputation as leaders in delivering exceptional care to patients in need.  

About the Author

Alexis Haws, PT, DPT works with the Strata Health customer success team. She has a clinical doctorate in physical therapy from Regis University, Denver, CO.  With over 15 years of experience working in both acute and post-acute settings, Alexis brings a broad knowledge of the tools necessary to optimize patient outcomes across the continuum of care. Connect with Alexis on LinkedIn.

  1. Silver-Greenberg, J & Gebeloff, R. (2021, May 13). Maggots, rape and yet five stars: How U.S. ratings of nursing homes mislead the public. The New York Times.  ↩︎
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