After significant executive shuffles over the last year, Amedisys Inc. (Nasdaq: AMED) may be hitting a stride in its clinical operations, if the latest star ratings are any indication.
The Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based home health care provider has seen a 15% increase in its average Medicare star rating on Home Health Compare from a year ago, reaching an average of 4.03 stars (out of a possible 5) across its 330 home health care centers. Home Health Compare publicly lists Medicare-certified home health care providers and ranks them through an algorithm that takes into account several quality measures.
Three-fourths of Amedisys’ home health centers were rated 4 stars or better, compared to 30% last year, according to the company, and 53 of its centers had a 4.5-star rating or higher.
The improvement comes after numerous organizational changes at the company, which is one of the nation’s largest home health providers and also offers hospice and personal care services. Within the last year, Amedisys has seen multiple executive changes.
Roughly 10 months ago, Amedisys appointed Susan Sender as its new chief clinical officer and senior vice president, and numerous clinical initiatives to improve quality and efficiency already underway recorded further progress.
Since coming into her role, Sender has helped launched a number of quality improvement initiatives, including adding new roles throughout the company. As star ratings continue to matter more to consumers and health care partners like hospitals and health systems, clinical improvements to boost star ratings are becoming more essential.
“More and more in this industry and environment, excellence in your stars is the minimum price of entry,” Sender told Home Health Care News. “It’s no longer solely a game of price.”
Amedisys has added new roles to help quality improvements start at the top of the company and proceed to the regional and local fields. Broadly, she has worked to improve the communication between business development, operations and clinical teams.
“When I first got here … I reorganized the clinical department, which was very top heavy, and I reduced it pretty significantly,” Sender said.
The company has hired a clinical analytics director in addition to regional field vice presidents of clinical.
Beyond adding staff, Amedisys has boosted its data and technology capabilities. At the end of 2016, the company completed its implementation of software system Homecare Homebase. It utilizes quality reporting software from SHP, one of the largest analytical technology providers in the space, to increase its data wealth.
The added information has helped executives at the corporate level to make decisions to impact the regional level, with “constant and circular” input from field clinicians, according to Sender.
“We go through all of the data and we chunk it up into sections, and we prioritize and determine what is it we need to implement and at what level of the organization,” she explained.
Improvements and Influence
Looking ahead, Amedisys has set a goal for all of its home health centers to achieve 4 stars or higher, Sender said. As more of the clinical restructuring continues to come into play, Sender hopes the results will boost ratings even higher.
“How do I measure the impact of [a] clinical manager who understands how to provide good oversight and care?” Sender said. “At the end of the day, it’s in the star measures, and people pay attention to star ratings.”
Beyond continuing to improve star ratings, Sender has more ambitious goals for Amedisys to influence the health care policy discussion as a leader in quality.
“I want us to be the agency that health plans and payers call when they want to do something innovative, when a regulation is going to change, when we’re looking to evaluate new regulations in the field,” Sender said. “I want to be sitting at the table for that, because we are the experts. We know what patients need. We know what’s going to drive those quality outcomes and not put undue burden on our locations, not put undue burden on clinicians. They want to spend their time putting their hands on patients, not paper.”
Written by Amy Baxter