In our previous posts, we noted that CMS has frozen the Survey Rating and intends to freeze the Staffing Rating and some Quality Measures starting this month.  Let’s take a look at the impact of some of these changes.

In a typical, non-frozen month, about 5% of facilities nationwide experience a Survey Rating change.  This makes sense – with 12 months in the year, and assuming a relatively equitable distribution of Surveys throughout the year, 12/100 or 8.33% of facilities get a new Survey each month, and since not all change, 5% seems right.  And since there’s a lag of around 2-4 months between when the Survey is completed and when it’s published on CMS, we don’t always see those changes right away.  But since the freeze, Standard Surveys are coming in at a trickle, with only the slowest publications from February stumbling in.  Only 58 facilities had new Surveys, so only 51 (0.33%) changed Survey Rating, which contrasts sharply with the 5.57% change we saw from March to April.

The changes were dramatic for Staffing and QM, too.  Since these domains only update every quarter, we’re used to seeing at least a quarter of all facilities change ratings.  But with Staffing frozen except for downgraded facilities getting a reprieve, only 948 (6.15%) facilities changed ratings, compared with 27.24% from March to April.  QMs are a little different.  MDS-based measures are frozen, but swings in Claims-based measures seem to be enough to move the needle.  3365 or 21.84% of facilities changed ratings, which is closer to the March-April percent change of 32.19%, but still a ways off.

Obviously, all this has an effect on Overall Rating, with only 1655 or 10.75% of facilities changing stars, as opposed to the 23.48% that changed from March to April.

So what does this all mean?  With Star Ratings becoming increasingly static, interested parties are turning to other key operational metrics.  CMS is publishing the results of the Targeted Infection Control Surveys, which can lead to fines and other enforcement actions.  COVID-19 data is being published weekly, and occupancy data is coming with it. 

Smart analysts, investors, and operators are taking advantage of this new data to stay ahead of the curve, and StarPRO is staying on top of the latest changes.  Take a quick spin in StarAnalyzer to see the new tools we’ve developed to process and display this information in context.

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