With so many Medicare-certified home health care providers, it’s no wonder choosing one can seem like a chore.
The key is to plan ahead and ask the right questions.
Let’s start with the importance of planning. We often talk about the importance of planning when it comes to advance directives, financial and legal considerations, and funeral services, but we seldom talk about the importance of selecting preferred medical providers before you find yourself in need of them. This is especially important for those living with chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and many lung diseases. You owe it to yourself or your loved one to at least become familiar with the various hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living communities and home health care providers in your community and what you should expect from each of them before you or someone you love needs care.
Selecting a home health care provider is an important health care decision. Interviewing providers to determine which one is right for you is recommended. Consider asking all or some of the following questions when shopping for an in-home provider:
1. Who owns the company?
Find out who owns the company and weigh out how the various type of ownership might play a role in the care, service, and reliability you experience. Is the provider a part of a large national firm, medium-sized corporation or a smaller boutique-type of provider? Do you expect to be treated like a number or an individual? Has the company changed hands moving from one owner to the next during its history?
2. How long has the company been in business?
The number of years a home health care provider has been in business is not always relevant to quality of care, but it will give some idea about stability and experience.
3. How are employees screened, trained and insured?
All Medicare-certified providers are required to conduct rigorous background checks on licensed clinicians and staff members, but ask about company policy on drug testing, references, on-going training, and hiring experienced clinicians. Ask how employees are insured and bonded.
4. Will a nurse or therapist be assigned to my care or will I see multiple clinicians?
A reputable home health care provider will work to ensure that the same clinicians see the same patients visit to visit. It promotes continuity of care and makes for a better customer experience.
5. What are the most recently reported star ratings for the provider?
CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) recently began ranking Medicare-certified home health care providers using a 5-Star system. Providers earn one to five stars, the more stars the better, for quality care based on clinical outcomes and patient satisfacton. The idea of the new Star-rating system is to make it easier for consumers to choose a home health care provider and also to motivate providers to make improvements.
To shop for a home health care provider visit Home Health Compare. The site allows consumers to do side by side comparisons for quality of care for all Medicare-certified home health care providers.