Isle home care
earns high marks

Hawaii residents can consult
data that measure quality
of home health care

Hawaii's 14 Medicare-certified home health agencies rank higher than the national average in many categories of patient care quality, according to national data.

The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services has published information about home health agencies in each state that the public can use when looking for help for a loved one.

The Home Health Quality Initiative, announced by Mountain-Pacific Quality Health Foundation, focuses on 11 measures: Four are related to improvement by patients in getting around; four concern improvement in meeting basic daily needs; two are related to medical emergencies; and one involves mental health improvement.

Hawaii is doing better as a state on seven measures and is one or two points below the national average on three others, noted Keely Kalama-Lakey, communications director with the Mountain-Pacific Foundation.

The weakest area for Hawaii involves patients who get better at taking their medicines correctly by mouth. On an average nationally, 35 percent of patients improve in that area while 28 percent do in Hawaii.

Mountain-Pacific Quality Health Foundation, a nonprofit, physician-sponsored organization funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, is providing resources and assistance to home health agencies in Hawaii, Guam, and Saipan to improve quality of care and help consumers use performance information.

Victoria Cuerva, project leader for quality improvement, said the foundation has been working aggressively with the agencies to identify problems and follow through on plans to help them.

"I'm actually really pleased to be doing this project because they're doing a tremendous job," she said. "We expect to see a lot of improvement in a lot of areas we're working on."

Gerald Chung, Medicare certification officer in the state Department of Health, Office of Health Care Assurance, said his office receives occasional complaints about home health agencies but most are unsubstantiated.

Rose Ann Poyzer, vice president of Home Health and Hospice for the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, said, "The population is aging and, hopefully, we will help a lot of people to be able to stay in their own homes with delivery of quality patient care, and that's what it's all about."

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services launched the Home Health Quality initiative as part of a program to improve the quality of care in nursing homes, hospitals and homes and give consumers information to make better choices.

Last November, it launched a Nursing Home Quality Initiative with national advertisements giving consumers eight measures for quality of care in nursing homes.

"By generating and publishing quality data, we are helping consumers to make decisions that best meet their needs and creating incentives for home health agencies to further improve quality," said Tom Scully, director of the federal agency.

Consumer information is accessible through Home Health Compare on Medicare's Web site at or by calling (800) MEDICARE.


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