To examine which factors are driving improvement in the Dialysis Facility Compare (DFC) star ratings and to test whether nonclinical facility characteristics are associated with observed longitudinal changes in the star ratings.
Data were collected from eligible patients in over 6,000 Medicare‐certified dialysis facilities from three annual star rating and individual measure updates, publicly released on DFC in October 2015, October 2016, and April 2018.
Changes in the star rating and individual quality measures were investigated across three public data releases. Year‐to‐year changes in the star ratings were linked to facility characteristics, adjusting for baseline differences in quality measure performance.
Data from publicly reported quality measures, including standardized mortality, hospitalization, and transfusion ratios, dialysis adequacy, type of vascular access for dialysis, and management of mineral and bone disease, were extracted from annual DFC data releases.
The proportion of four‐ and five‐star facilities increased from 30.0% to 53.4% between October 2015 and April 2018. Quality improvement was driven by the domain of care containing the dialysis adequacy and hypercalcemia measures. Additionally, independently owned facilities and facilities belonging to smaller dialysis organizations had significantly lower odds of year‐to‐year improvement than facilities belonging to either of the two large dialysis organizations (Odds Ratio [OR]: 0.736, 95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 0.631‐0.856 and OR: 0.797, 95% CI: 0.723‐0.879, respectively).
The percentage of four‐ and five‐star facilities has increased markedly over a three‐year time period. These changes were driven by improvement in the specific quality measures that may be most directly under the control of the dialysis facility.