Consumers can now evaluate the quality of care at more than 5,500 dialysis facilities online with a five-star rating system the CMS rolled out last week.
The program is part of a broader federal initiative to boost transparency and help Medicare beneficiaries compare quality in various healthcare settings.
But kidney-care providers remain concerned that the structure of the program will create more confusion than clarity for consumers. They called the results distorted.
“The calculation of the scores is based on a forced bell curve, which distorts the actual facility performance,” according to a statement from Kidney Care Partners, a coalition of patient advocates, dialysis professionals, care providers and manufacturers. “The results mislead patients and misrepresent the quality of care provided,” they said.
Likewise, Dialysis Patient Citizens, a not-for-profit, patient-led organization, said the rating system will not “empower consumers to act on quality information in a realistic manner.”
Despite the criticisms, the CMS said it will update the dialysis facility star ratings on an annual basis, beginning in October. The agency also plans to add a standardized readmission-ratio measure to the site. Of the 5,580 dialysis facilities to receive a star rating, 565 were “much above average quality” and received the full five stars, while 545 were “much below average quality” and received one star.