Quality home care is critical to ensuring patients continue to receive treatment after a hospital stay for medical conditions that may require it. Clear communication and compassionate care from home health providers ensures patients and families understand how to manage their health condition. This measure is based on a standardized national survey that was sent in the mail to patients that asks about their experience of care from the home health care agency.
The Johns Hopkins Home Care Group and Potomac Home Health Care provide home health services, such as skilled nursing, physical therapy and speech therapy, for patients.
A standardized national survey called the Home Health Care Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HHCAHPS) is mailed to some adult patients so they can provide their perspective on their care experience with the home health agency.
The survey asks adult patients questions about clear communication, frequency of communication about medications, home safety and pain management, and the patient’s overall experience.
Patient responses are submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which publicly reports the annual results from all U.S. home health care agencies online at Home Health Compare.
See examples of HHCAHPS survey questions:
- In the last two months of care, how often did home health providers from this agency explain things in a way that was easy to understand?
- In the last two months of care, how often did home health providers from this agency keep you informed about when they would arrive at your home?
- In the last two months of care, how often did home health providers from this agency listen carefully to you?
Patients have the choice of responding with always, usually, sometimes or never. The percentage of “always” responses are shown in the data graph below.
Why is it important?
Quality home care is critical to ensuring patients continue to receive treatment after a hospital stay for medical conditions that may require it. Effective communication and compassionate care from home health providers ensures patients and families understand how to manage their health condition, which can help to prevent a hospital readmission.
HHCAHPS survey questions are designed to measure how often key components of home health care happen. Prospective home health care patients and families can use HHCAHPS survey results to objectively compare other patient perspectives on communication quality, communication frequency and overall experience.
How Does Johns Hopkins Medicine Perform?
Summary Star Rating
CMS calculates the Summary Star rating based on the average from all categories of survey questions.
Overall Care Rating
Data source: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services based on a random sample of patients who received home health care services.
*Benchmark Source: National and state averages are the most recent numbers publicly available on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Hospital Compare. National and state averages for previous years are not available.
CMS Star Ratings: To make it easier for patients and families to understand the Home Health Care Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HHCAHPS) survey scores, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) developed a five-star rating system in 2016. Home health care agencies are given between one and five stars in five categories. CMS calculates the number of stars by converting patient survey responses into scores.
Johns Hopkins Home Care Group and Potomac Home Health Care consistently work to ensure patients receive quality care and personal attention.
Ensuring a Safe Home Environment
Home safety is key to preventing accidents that could cause serious harm. Our home health care staff talk to patients about how to set up the home so patients can move around safely, such as checking for any rugs the patient may trip over or other potential issues. The nurse makes a list of all medications in the patient’s home. This is compared to the hospital discharge instructions to make sure the patient has all the right and needed medications.
Communicating Clearly with Patients
Home health care providers ensure their communication with the patient is clear by using a “teach back” method. For example, after receiving direction on how to use a catheter, a patient must then try to teach the nurse on how to use it as a way to review the material and ensure the patient understands. Our home health care staff make sure they explain things in a way that is easy for patients to take in. They speak slowly and do not use too many medical words. The nurse can then address any areas needing clarification.
Nurses also ensure patients are clear on when the different home health team members — for instance, other nurses, therapists, social workers and aides — will be visiting them at home.
Suzanne Havrilla, D.P.T., G.C.S.
Clinical Manager, Johns Hopkins Home Care Group
“As home health care providers, we are guests in the patient’s home. It’s a different relationship and a more intimate setting than providing care at a hospital.
It’s critical that what we teach patients about caring for their health and safety at home makes sense, no matter the patient’s learning style or education level.
One area we train all new staff members about are the different stages of adult learning and what resources to leave with patients to reference later.
We also make sure patients are clearly told what the home care therapists are doing and why.
For example, when we conduct a home safety assessment, we walk around the home with the patient. That way, we can explain that we’re trying to identify areas where the patient may have a risk of falling down when using a new walker.
I think the home is the best place to treat patients because patients want to be at home, not in a hospital or rehab unit.
We’re able to help patients meet their goals and empower them to be successful in their daily lives after they no longer need home health care.”
Knowing about your health condition, medications and plan for future care are critical for keeping you healthy. If you are unclear about anything regarding your health condition or treatment, ask your home health care team for help. Continue taking your medications as prescribed and following any physical therapy guidelines. You can also ask for additional home safety tools and resources.