Kurt Merkelz headshot
Kurt Merkelz, MD

Editor’s Note: McKnight’s Senior Living, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Home Care are profiling the McKnight’s 2024 Pinnacle Awards honorees daily in April and May. For additional McKnight’s Pinnacle Awards content, visit this page.

Kurt Merkelz, MD, led the recent standardization of best practices throughout Compassus through the development of tools and procedures built into the organization’s interoperability platform. This effort helped raise the company’s star ratings in home health to an average of 4 stars. 

Merkelz also supported the rollout of a pain assessment standardization model for cognitively impaired patients within the electronic medical record system for Compassus, a national home health, infusion, hospice and palliative care provider. 

He has worked with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the National Quality Forum to define and develop national performance measures for quality end-of-life care. Through those relationships, he hopes to shape the vision and direction of end-of-life care for patients across the country.

A vocal proponent of developing person-centered quality measures that improve safety and independence for people receiving home-based healthcare, Merkelz is the co-chair for the NQF Measure Application Partnership/Post- Acute Care Committee and serves on the Quality Measures Subcommittee of AMDA–The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. He leads Compassus’ Medical Director Advisory Council and National Ethics Committee. 

Under Merkelz’ leadership, Compassus developed a model that focuses on a person’s greatest concerns and addresses them in a way that supports the individual’s care goals. That approach produces a common framework that guides the entire care team members so they can prioritize not just a person’s healthcare, but also a person’s religious and cultural preferences. This approach has resulted in Compassus’ hospice program ranking above national standards in visits in the past three days of a person’s life. 

  • Merkelz earned his medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and completed a residency at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
  • He is triple board-certified, in hospice and palliative care medicine, in family practice and in geriatrics. 
  • He won the Compassus R. Sean Morrison, MD, Award for Outstanding Achievement in Hospice Physician Leadership.

The McKnight’s Pinnacle Awards program is jointly administered by McKnight’s Senior Living, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Home Care. Honorees were recognized March 21 at a dinner and awards ceremony in Chicago. Omnicare was the Silver sponsor for the 2024 Pinnacle Awards program. Parker Health Group and Sentrics were event sponsors.