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In 2007 I gave a talk at the annual meeting of the Visiting Nurse Associations of New England about using quality measurements to make a persuasive case for choosing their services. Simple charts and data, when presented in a reader-friendly fashion, reassure potential clients. They offer something more substantial than words about comfort and dependability and caring typically seen on home care sites and brochures.

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Curious about agencies currently making use of quality information to market their services, I recently Googled home health care quality. Google sent me right to Medicare's "Home Health Compare" pages-it was the very top listing. Interestingly, Health care at home quality, home health care, and home healthagency also go straight to Home Health Compare. It's likely that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is already thinking about other keywords, like visiting nurse, to attract visitors to the site.


The "Home Health Compare" pages listed 27 different agencies that provide home healthcare in my zip code area, a busy and populous region with some of the country's leading medical centers. This is interesting, I thought: I'll take a look at how home health agencies are building on the quality measurements that Medicare requires them to report. Surely, because they already have to collect the information, they'll want to make use of it to attract clients. If most of their clients are referral sources, how effective to provide up front the information that their patients do better than the state average.


Imagine my surprise, then, to find that only one out of 27 agencies provided quality measurement information on its website. (I can't really count those whose only site is, which lists only raw Home Health Compare data, even when results are poor.)


In a remarkable white paper published in April 2010, Wyatt Matas Associates made the case for home health agencies, especially including smaller ones, to revisit their current business models and prepare for significant change in the home care market. But change is not an easy thing when the economy is down, reimbursements are being cut, and nursing staff can be scarce (Wyatt Matas, 2010).


I would still argue that one simple and inexpensive step toward remaining a healthy business and preparing for change is to build your marketing efforts on your quality measures. Not hidden somewhere on a back page, not presented in lengthy and confusing sentences or hyper-complicated charts, but in simple statements and/or graphs, right on your home page, or on a landing page that you've set up with the right keywords for Google to identify you.


Healthcare that offers both quality and efficiency is high on the list of reforms underway. Clearly, CMS is building an audience for quality measures. An agency that can speak eloquently about the value of its patient care, using hard data to indicate patient outcomes, shows that it understands the business it's in and knows how to meet the challenges it faces. The very process of focusing on the outcome data and learning how to present it will help both staff and board members evolve to meet the business challenges facing home health now and in the future.


Whether it's how you succeed at keeping your patients out of the hospital, or how much better they are at caring for themselves, you have the measurements-reported by CMS-to prove the good work you do and persuade both patients and families that you are the right choice for them. Find your best copywriter and transform those numbers-already at hand-into clear statements and graphs about the proven quality of your services.




Wyatt Matas & Associates, LLC, (2010, April 12). The delineation of home healthcare: The natural evolution of a healthy industry. Retrieved from[Context Link]