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Home health agency adoption of quality improvement activities and association with performance.

Shetty KD, Robbins MW, Saliba D, Campbell KN, Castora-Binkley M, Damberg CL. Home health agency adoption of quality improvement activities and association with performance. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2021 Nov 1; 69(11):3273-3284.

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BACKGROUND: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Home Health Quality Reporting Program (HHQRP) uses performance measurement to spur improvements in home health agencies' (HHAs') quality of care. We examined quality improvement (QI) activities HHAs reported making to improve on HHQRP quality measures, and whether reported QI activities were associated with better measure performance. METHODS: We used responses (N  = 1052) from a Web- and mail-based survey of a stratified random sample of HHAs included in CMS Home Health Compare in October 2019. We estimated national adoption rates for 27 possible QI activities related to organizational culture, health information technology, care process redesign, provider incentives, provider training, changes to staffing responsibilities, performance monitoring, and measure-specific QI initiatives and technical assistance. We used multivariate linear regression to examine the associations between HHA characteristics and QI adoption, and between QI adoption and CMS Home Health Quality of Patient Care Star Rating. RESULTS: HHAs reported implementing an average of 16 QI activities (interquartile range 11-19 activities). Larger HHA size was associated with adopting 1.6 additional QI activities (p  < 0.001). HHAs with higher proportions of disabled, black, or Hispanic patients adopted QI activities at similar or higher rates as other HHAs. Of the 27 QI activities, 23 were considered helpful by more than 80% of adopting HHAs. Compared with adopting 44% of QI activities (10th percentile among HHAs), adopting 89% of QI activities (90th percentile) was associated with a 0.4-star higher Star Rating (95% confidence interval 0.2-0.6). CONCLUSIONS: HHAs report implementing a significant number of QI activities in response to CMS measurement programs; implementation of a greater number of activities is associated with better performance on publicly reported measures. To guide future HHA QI investments, work is needed to identify the optimal combination of QI activities and the specific QI activities that yield the greatest performance improvements.

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