A Tale of Two Nursing Home Reports
Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration recently tightened its protocols regarding what data are to be—and not to be—disclosed within inspection reports for nursing homes and assisted living facilities that are uploaded to the Agency’s website.
To accomplish this feat, the Agency is employing a software application that electronically dissects each report’s survey narrative and redacts any data that the Agency believes may “potentially be used to identify an individual’s protected health information.”
“AHCA’s software algorithm is … sabotaging the readability and usefulness of inspection reports for residents and their families.”
While Families for Better Care agrees that the protection of residents’ confidential health information is paramount, we contend that AHCA’s software algorithm is expanding beyond its scope and is sabotaging the readability and usefulness of inspection reports for residents and their families.
This overreach can easily be observed when comparing two inspection reports for the exact same survey, with one report being posted to the Agency for Health Care Administration’s site and the other being posted to the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Nursing Home Compare website.
The differences are alarming and show a tale of two very different nursing home reports.
The illustration below shows the AHCA report on the left and the CMS report on the right. Notice how the redaction of “health information” within the state’s report greatly exceeds the same information that’s openly published in the federal report. AHCA’s confusing redactions slice into the substantive meat of the report’s findings, offering consumers a nearly indecipherable understanding of a surveyor’s observations.
If there is any good news to this story, it’s that families are still able to view and download more detailed survey reports for nursing homes through the Nursing Home Compare website.
Unfortunately, those seeking information about assisted living facilities will be limited to what’s posted on FloridaHealthFinder, and right now that information is being greatly restricted by the Agency in what seems to be a policy that provides deference to providers rather than helping consumers find out about facility quality.
Families for Better Care contends that these modifications by AHCA hinder consumer access to inspection reports and we highly recommend that the Agency rollback implementation of this software platform, restoring consumer accessibility to these public documents. Doing so will increase awareness of quality in each facility while simultaneously holding facilities publicly accountable for services being provided to residents.