Star Ratings: Medication Management Is Not Just for D Ratings Anymore!

As a pharmacist and Star Ratings Senior Consultant for Gorman Health Group, whenever I am asked to provide insight on how to achieve or maintain Star Ratings success, the conversation has been limited to the “D” part of the metrics, and the folks involved with Medicare Advantage (MA) and Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS®) kind of glaze over and mumble something like, “That’s for the Pharmacy folks to deal with.” That attitude has always been somewhat befuddling to me considering the historical and ever-increasing impact of appropriate clinical management of medications on many HEDIS® measures and the quality conversation in general. Equally confusing to me has been the willingness of many pharmacists to relinquish the ownership of the medication-related HEDIS® measures to Quality, Case Management, or other teams.

The team approach, with the patient at the center of the team, is vital to delivering high-quality care. At many health plans, the Star Ratings teams historically have been “siloed” into medical Care/Case Management on one team and Pharmacy on the other. While we at the health plans were all focused on Star Ratings for the past several years, something happened outside of MA that will have a huge impact on the whole spectrum of healthcare. That event was MACRA — the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 — the latest and most sweeping healthcare reform law from Congress. MACRA will fundamentally change how healthcare providers are paid. Under value-based payment, the foundation of the reward system will be quality. Out of this change will come huge shifts in alignments and the creation of new partnerships requiring “outside-the-box” thinking. At the center of many of these new partnerships will be the critical role of the pharmacist and medication management.

Health plan Star Ratings teams would do well to pay attention to these profound trends outside of MA and understand the huge impact on how care will be delivered in order to respond to these changing incentives. Wasn’t the Star Ratings system one of the early forms of value-based payment? Certainly if metric success is not achieved, there is a huge financial impact that will be incurred. A cornerstone of value-based payment is preventing hospital admissions impacted by many aspects of care but notably including a huge focus on medication reconciliation, medication management, and medication adherence. Sound familiar?

So how do we take these shifting sands and turn them into something tangible? The first step is collaboration. Star Ratings teams need to prepare themselves for a global value-based system by no longer segregating their teams into “C” and “D.” And even if teams meet in an integrated way, the pharmacy members need to take the lead on metrics that extend beyond adherence and Medication Therapy Management (MTM) Comprehensive Medication Review (CMR) rates. Pharmacists should be taking the lead on new metric challenges like medication reconciliation even though they are a HEDIS® measure. A strong medication reconciliation program not only impacts the “checking of the box” that it was done but, if done right, has been shown to actually have an impact on reducing hospital readmissions (another Star Ratings measure). So this is good for Star Ratings, good for the plan, and, most importantly, good for the patient.


Every organization in the healthcare industry will be impacted by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). Gorman Health Group’s Senior Vice President of Healthcare Analytics & Risk Adjustment Solutions, Dan Weinrieb, provided insight into the various options Providers will have if the legislation moves forward in a previous blog post on the subject >>

On Tuesday, September 13, 2016, from 1:00 — 2:00 pm ET, join colleagues Diane Hollie, Senior Director of Sales & Marketing Services, and Carrie Barker-Settles, Director of Sales & Marketing Services, as they outline the keys to building an integrated member experience program that will deliver a significant and positive impact on health plan enrollment, retention, and revenue generation. Register now >>

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