Hospitals gear up for CMS patient surveys

To date, most healthcare quality measurement has focused on clinical processes and outcomes. However, starting this month, hospitals subject to the inpatient PPS provisions of Medicare will begin submitting data from a standard patient experience survey to CMS. Results from the new survey, the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (known as HCAHPS), will begin being posted on CMS's Hospital Compare Web site in March 2008. Technically, hospitals aren't required to conduct the survey, but if they don't collect the data, they won't get their full payment update from CMS in fiscal 2008.

HCAHPS includes 27 questions in seven categories, including communications about medications, staff responsiveness, hospital cleanliness and quiet, pain management and discharge information. Researchers estimate administering HCAHPS costs $11 to $15.25 per complete survey when done independently, or $3.26 per survey when integrated into existing patient satisfaction surveys.

While July 13 was the deadline for hospitals to begin submitting HCAHPS data, about 3,000 hospitals already had begun using the survey, according to the American Hospital Association. Some hospital operators, including Tenet Healthcare, began pilot-testing the measures in 2004, and have already begun making operational changes in response to patient feedback.

To find out more about HCAHPS:
- read this Modern Healthcare article (sub. req.)

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