Choosing a Home Care Provider

Medicare law stipulates that the patient has the right to choose his or her home care provider. Many physicians have home care preferences, but should always respect the patient's right to choose. If the patient does not have a preferred provider, many physicians leave the choice of the home health agency to the hospital or surgery center discharge planner or social worker. These professionals are required to inform the patient of his/her right to choose and should ask the patient if they have a preference. These professionals must also provide the patient with a list of all the provider choices available to them.

Not all home health providers are the same. The level of quality and the level of service can vary widely even though all are licensed by the State and certified by Medicare if they serve Medicare patients.

The following is a list of points to consider when discussing the selection of a home health provider:

  1. Is the Agency accredited by either the Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP) or the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO)? Accreditation means the Agency has met high operating and clinical standards.
  2. What is the personnel turnover rate of the Agency? Will the Agency promise to keep the personnel providing the care consistent?
  3. Does the Agency provide a patient satisfaction and physician satisfaction survey and do they publish the results? Could you get a copy of the results?
  4. What are the qualifications of the staff that will be assigned to your loved one?
  5. Did the Agency have any deficiencies during its last State licensing survey? If so what were they?
  6. If the Agency is a Medicare provider, who serves on its Professional Advisory Committee and how often do they meet? Many only meet one time a year which is the minimum requirement. You would want to see an active Committee that meets at least three times a year.
  7. How does the Agency handle Quality Assurance?
  8. What is the process for voicing concerns or complaints?
  9. Is the Agency a member of the Texas Association of Home Care?
  10. How will the Agency allow you to verify the responses to these questions?
  11. You can also check the outcome ratings for Medicare providers by going to the website, www.medicare.gov.