blog post 10.6.14

CAHPS and Compliance

This blog post excerpts an article by Karen Sorensen, Associate Vice President, Government Initiatives,

HealthStream, in the Q3 2015 issue of PX Advisor, our quarterly magazine designed to bring you thought leadership and best practices for improving the patient experience.

This issue of the PX Advisor is focused on compliance. In healthcare, we have come to associate that term with all of the rules and requirements around providing safe patient care and safe workplaces, avoiding conflicts of interest, and even following proper billing practices. But the dictionary defines compliance as the act of conforming, acquiescing, or yielding. In many ways complying with all of the rules around CAHPS programs feels a lot like throwing our hands up in surrender. CMS expects HealthStream and healthcare facilities to fully comply with all of the official protocols for each CAHPS survey. This is especially complicated because the rules are not consistent between programs. For example, for the ACO and PQRS CAHPS surveys we are not allowed to add any supplemental questions to the survey. In contrast, HCAHPS does not place any restriction on the number of additional questions that hospitals can add to the survey. Home Health CAHPS allows a proxy to be surveyed if the patient is unable to participate. However, for HCAHPS we are only allowed to interview the patient. In-Center Hemodialysis CAHPS requires that we make up to 10 telephone attempts to interview the patient, while HCAHPS only requires 5 attempts. Complete the form below to download the full article and issue.   

We Focus on CAHPS Every Day

While I have the privilege and responsibility of serving as HealthStream’s CAHPS subject-matter expert, the fact is that CAHPS requires the attention of our entire company. Everyone at HealthStream from our Chief Executive Officer Bobby Frist to our CAHPS interviewers are focused on ensuring that we not only follow the rules, but that your results are accurate. One of CMS’s goals for all of the CAHPS surveys is to provide consumers with information that will help them decide where to get care. Coupled with CMS’s plans to link facilities’ actual performance on several additional CAHPS surveys to reimbursement, we have a compelling argument that accuracy and compliance with all of the protocols, no matter how complex, are vital to your success. That is why at HealthStream all of our PX teams are focused on CAHPS every day.

CAHPS Compliance is Serious

But you also have a role in ensuring accuracy and compliance with each CAHPS program’s unique requirements. For example, did you know that you are not allowed to show a copy of the HCAHPS survey to patients? Did you know that you cannot use HCAHPS style questions when rounding on patients? Did you know you are not allowed to contact a patient who completed the Home Health CAHPS survey unless he or she gives permission? Did you know you are allowed to advertise your HCAHPS Star Ratings? These are just a few examples of the various requirements that facilities need to be aware of when they are participating in a CAHPS survey. In addition to this quarterly article, HealthStream has prepared Resource Guides and fact sheets to help you understand each survey’s unique requirements. And, any member of your HealthStream team is available to answer your questions.

In this quarter’s Re-CAHPS article, we have included an update on the new Outpatient & Ambulatory Surgery CAHPS and ED-CAHPS surveys, as well as a few additional updates. You will also be able to test your knowledge of CAHPS protocols. Are you a CAHPS master or novice, or somewhere in between?

This article’s sections include updates for:

  • Outpatient & Ambulatory Surgery CAHPS (OAS-CAHPS)
  • In-Center Hemodialysis CAHPS
  • Home Health CAHPS

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