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Approaches to quality improvement in nursing homes: Lessons learned from the six-state pilot of CMS's Nursing Home Quality Initiative

Stephanie Kissam1*, David Gifford12, Peggy Parks3, Gail Patry1, Laura Palmer4, Linda Wilkes5, Matthew Fitzgerald6, Alice Stollenwerk Petrulis7 and Leslie Barnette8

Author Affiliations

1 Rhode Island Quality Partners, Providence RI, 02908, USA

2 Division of Geriatrics, Brown University, Providence RI, 02912, USA

3 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Baltimore MD, USA

4 Colorado Foundation for Medical Care, Aurora CO, 80014, USA

5 Florida Medical Quality Assurance, Tampa FL, 33607, USA

6 Delmarva Foundation, Easton MD, 21601, USA

7 Ohio KePRO, Seven Hills OH, 44131, USA

8 Qualis Health, Seattle WA, 98133, USA

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BMC Geriatrics 2003, 3:2  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-3-2

Published: 16 May 2003



In November 2002, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) launched a Nursing Home Quality Initiative that included publicly reporting a set of Quality Measures for all nursing homes in the country, and providing quality improvement assistance to nursing homes nationwide. A pilot of this initiative occurred in six states for six months prior to the launch.


Review and analysis of the lessons learned from the six Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs) that led quality improvement efforts in nursing homes from the six pilot states.


QIOs in the six pilot states found several key outcomes of the Nursing Home Quality Initiative that help to maximize the potential of public reporting to leverage effective improvement in nursing home quality of care. First, public reporting focuses the attention of all stakeholders in the nursing home industry on achieving good quality outcomes on a defined set of measures, and creates an incentive for partnership formation. Second, publicly reported quality measures motivate nursing home providers to improve in certain key clinical areas, and in particular to seek out new ways of changing processes of care, such as engaging physicians and the medical director more directly. Third, the lessons learned by QIOs in the pilot of this Initiative indicate that certain approaches to providing quality improvement assistance are key to guiding nursing home providers' desire and enthusiasm to improve towards a using a systematic approach to quality improvement.


The Nursing Home Quality Initiative has already demonstrated the potential of public reporting to foster collaboration and coordination among nursing home stakeholders and to heighten interest of nursing homes in quality improvement techniques. The lessons learned from this pilot project have implications for any organizations or individuals planning quality improvement projects in the nursing home setting.