CAHPS Survey 101, CheckinAsyst®

CAHPS Survey 101: What is CAHPS & How a Digital Platform Can Maximize Response Rate

Many providers often grapple with the question – Am I delivering quality care services, and what’s the secret rule to improve it? CAHPS Surveys give you the superpower to assess your care quality right from the one who receives it – your patients.

What is CAHPS Survey?

CAHPS or Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems surveys capture patient experience using a standardized set of survey questions, design, and reporting protocols administered by the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The surveys measure patient experience based on the factors that patients themselves consider important. For instance:

  • Patient-provider communication
  • Facility cleanliness and noise levels
  • Care coordination
  • Access to care, etc.

The questions are related to the patient’s experience with providers (individual and group), health plans, specific conditions (cancer, surgical, etc.), and facilities (hospitals, nursing homes, hospice, etc.).

However, quite often, patient experience is confused with patient satisfaction. Patient experience assesses the patients’ interactions across the health care system, and not how satisfied they are with the care. Similarly, CAHPS surveys understand whether the patients received critical aspects of the care during different stages, rather than understanding their satisfaction level and subjective assessment.

Why conduct a CAHPS Survey?

So, before you take a deep dive into CAHPS surveys, let’s look at an important question – Is it worth the effort? The answer is a big YES. CAHPS has been used as a gold standard for patient experience measurement and has found multiple applications.

  • CAHPS is a pre-requisite for gaining accreditation and certification from multiple state-level and national-level organizations
    • The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) requires participants to conduct CAHPS Health Plan Survey for the health plan accreditation
    • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also require CAHPS surveys for public reporting
  • CAHPS surveys can help in getting CMS reimbursement for the Value-based Purchasing (VBP) program
  • Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) is mandatory to receive full Medicare reimbursement payments
  • CAHPS survey accounts for 65 Star Points for a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MAPD) plan
  • In the case of MIPS Reporting, CAHPS is one of the aspects of Quality improvement which can give your points a lift

Besides all these benefits, the adage ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it’ rings true. With CAHPS, you know exactly what steps are required to take your care quality a notch higher.

Based on your practice, you can choose relevant survey questions and analyze care across multiple interactions. Using the patients’ feedback, you can identify opportunities to improve care delivery, leading to better customer retention rates and profitability.

Capturing patient-reported data for CAHPS

Implementing a CAHPS Survey takes a bit of planning. It starts right from understanding your objectives, identifying the target audience (e.g., children, adults, or condition-specific patients), choosing the appropriate core and supplement standard survey forms, to selecting the preferred data collection channel.

CAHPS surveys can be administered via in-office paper forms, phone, email, and/or text messaging. The survey administration methods are recommended by the vendors who are responsible for the certification. However, most common CAHPS surveys, such as HCAHPS and CG – CAHPS (The Clinical and Group Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems), allow either of the different survey delivery methods, i.e., phone, email.

Challenges of traditional data collection

In-office hand-outs are the oldest, most common method of collecting patient-reported data. However, paper-based surveys have a higher rate of incomplete distribution rates. In fact, as per the Health Research and Educational Trust trial, paper-based surveys had a 74 percent incomplete distribution rate.

Also, in-office hand-outs come with heavy paper costs, higher manual intervention, and staff burnout, which adds to your overhead costs.

On the other hand, using phone calls to collect patient data for CAHPS surveys in a busy front office involves a huge risk of violating HIPAA rules. Also, the fact that 67% of people don’t pick up calls from numbers they don’t recognize makes call-based surveys an unlikely choice.

Modernizing CAHPS Surveys

Owing to the high administrative costs and inefficiencies of paper-based and call surveys, it’s critical to modernize the way we capture patient data for CAHPS surveys.

Digital surveys save up considerable administrative costs, streamline operational workflows, and increases response rates.

Let’s look at the two digital channels to send CAHPS surveys and how CheckinAsyst simplifies the entire process – right from data collection to response tracking.

Via text messaging

With an impressive open rate of 98%, text messaging holds better chances at ensuring the surveys reach your patients. Leverage text messaging to send the CAHPS survey link. Patients can easily use the link to complete the questions, and your staff can review the responses directly on the dashboard without intervening at all.

Via email

Email is also an effective channel to send the CAHPS survey link to the patient population. While there is a common misconception that only a certain age group uses the internet, the data according to Pew Research Center states that 73% of adults aged 65 and older use the internet. This opens up another opportunity for the healthcare community to reach their patients.

While the two digital channels have promising benefits, it’s important to understand their downsides too. Text messaging is charged based on the volume of messages you send. Also, with the character limit of SMS, it can be tricky to send a clear message without sounding curt.

In case of emails, there are high chances of your message getting lost in the inbox clutter. So, before choosing a surveying channel for CAHPS, it’s important to understand your objectives and target audience to get more bang for your buck.

Track CAHPS responses via CheckinAsyst

Apart from providing communication channels to send your CAHPS surveys, CheckinAsyst helps extract and analyze the responses. Using automated reports, you can identify factors that fetch the highest scores. With a quick overview of service ratings, it’s easier to make improvements and build better outcomes.

The CheckinAsyst Advantage

By digitizing the process of collecting patient-reported outcomes, CheckinAsyst makes CAHPS surveys easy.

  • CheckinAsyst helps set up an automated process of collecting CAHPS survey data for outpatient care
  • With CheckinAsyst, you can automatically trigger surveys to your patients based on a defined time period
  • Practices can send the survey links via email, text messaging or both
  • You can also trigger on-demand SMS or email messages to your patients as and when the need arises
  • By leveraging integration capabilities, the platform can automatically send the survey responses back to your PM (Practice Management) system for analysis purposes

Take this success story, for instance:

A leading independent healthcare network in Oregon had to collect CG-CAHPS survey every two years to achieve and maintain its 5-Star Primary Care Medical Home rating. The organization adopted CheckinAsyst to generate a minimum of 25 responses per provider and used the platform’s dashboard to showcase each provider’s responses.

The questions analyzed the below factors:

  • Access to timely appointment and care
  • Provider communication
  • Attention to care from other providers
  • Providers support in helping patients take care of their health

With CheckinAsyst, the organization had an effective way of collecting and capturing the CAHPS survey data. Providers could view patient feedback and make necessary improvements in their care delivery.

Going ahead

CAHPS survey is a recognized standard to measure patient experience and improve health outcomes. With the survey being a pre-requisite for multiple reimbursement payments and certification, providers and facilities should implement CAHPS surveys to take the maximum advantage. And, by leveraging digital channels, they can improve response rates and collect accurate patient-reported data effortlessly.

Contact us to know how a digital platform can help capture patient data for CAHPS surveys and improve your response rate without burdening your staff.


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