At some point in our lives, most of us will require in-home care or know someone who will. When the time comes to make the decision for ourselves or a loved one, what should be considered? Recently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) established the Home Health Compare (HHC) website on The site uses a five-star rating system, updated quarterly in January, April, July and October, that allows consumers to easily navigate their options and compare home health agencies in their area. This gives the public access to data collected by CMS reflecting patient and family experiences with home health agencies from all over the United States, empowering them to choose the best in-home care to meet their needs.

Two types of star ratings exist for consumers to compare home health agencies: “quality of patient care” and “patient survey ratings.” To access the CMS star rating system, go to Enter your geographic information, and a list of Medicare-certified home health agencies in your area will populate. From here, you will be able to identify current star ratings for both quality of patient care and patient survey ratings.

Quality of patient care star ratings are determined from patient data collected by CMS. Home health agencies are judged on nine of 24 quality measures that apply to most patients to determine the rating. The nine measures of care are broken down by two categories: ‘process’ and ‘outcome of care.’ The nine measures are:

  1. Initiated patient care in a timely manner
  2. Provided patient/caregiver drug education on all medications
  3. Ensured patients received flu vaccine for the current season

Outcome of care measures – how often the patient:

  1. Got better at walking or moving around
  2. Got better at getting in and out of bed
  3. Got better at bathing themselves
  4. Was able to engage in activity with less pain
  5. Experienced less shortness of breath
  6. Required acute care hospitalization

Patient survey star ratings are determined by patient experience of the following comprehensive care measures:

Achieving a high star rating in the patient survey category is a great testament for home health agencies because it is a direct reflection of patient and family satisfaction of the agency that provided their in-home care. This data is collected towards the end of patient care.

If you or a loved one are in need of in-home care following a surgery, illness or injury, take the time to review the local home health agencies in your area. When a doctor recommends home health care, the patient always has a choice as to who their in-home care provider will be. After reviewing the home care agencies in your area, talk with a loved one about who you would want to provide in-home care when needed. 

Information provided by VNA Home Health