How does CMS collect information for Nursing Home Compare?

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The nursing home quality information reported in Nursing Home Compare on comes from two Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) resources: 

The Online Survey, Certification and Reporting (OSCAR) database. State survey agencies collect and report this information to CMS. Data are gathered two ways: by state surveyors during on-site evaluations performed at least once during a 9-15-month period and through reports (reviewed by the surveyors, but not formally audited for accuracy) produced by the nursing homes themselves. The states update OSCAR data as surveys are completed.

The Long-Term Care Minimum Data Set (MDS) Repository. For this database, nursing homes provide to CMS information on each resident's functional capabilities and medical needs. State surveyors also use this information. The MDS repository is updated quarterly. MDS refers to a data set comprised of core elements and common definitions regarding care provided to residents of nursing homes. The MDS includes standard demographic data for identification such as resident name, birth date, etc. and also contains data elements that describe the resident's health status in areas such as customary routines, cognitive patterns and disease diagnoses. All facilities certified to participate in Medicare and/or Medicaid are required by law to encode and transmit the information contained in the MDS to the state (survey agency). The data are collected using a resident assessment instrument designated by CMS, currently MDS 2.0. The state subsequently is required to transmit the data to CMS using the same standard record layouts and data dictionaries.

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