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GPDC CAHPS 101: What This Patient Survey Means for Participating Direct Contracting Entities

Coauthored by James Beem

The Global and Professional Direct Contracting (GPDC) Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) survey was developed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to measure the experience of patients receiving care from GPDC–model participants. The GPDC model is a set of voluntary payment options for reducing expenditures and improving quality of care for Medicare fee-for-service (FFS)—i.e., Original Medicare—beneficiaries. The GPDC system builds on other initiatives, such as the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) and the Next Generation Accountable Care Organization (ACO) model. 

Although CMS recently announced the GPDC model will transition to the new ACO REACH model beginning in 2023, participants are still required to administer GDPC CAHPS surveys in 2022. Since this is the first year CMS is requiring GPDC CAHPS for participants in the GPDC model, it’s essential to understand how the survey works and how it’s implemented. 

What Is GPDC CAHPS?

The GPDC CAHPS survey collects patient feedback on the quality of care received from Direct Contracting Entities (DCEs) participating in the GPDC model.  

DCEs participating in the GPDC model include: ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations) or ACO-like organizations, networks of individual practices, hospital systems, integrated delivery systems, partnerships of hospital systems and medical practices, Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs), Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs), and other eligible healthcare organizations.

Is Participation in GPDC CAHPS Mandatory?

CMS requires all DCEs participating in the GPDC model to survey a defined sample of their eligible beneficiaries with GPDC CAHPS from September through December of 2022. CMS gives every DCE an Annual Quality Performance Report that includes CAHPS results and benchmarks. If a DCE has insufficient beneficiaries, CMS can deem it exempt from conducting the patient experience survey for that year.

What Types of Questions Does the Patient Experience Survey Ask?

The GPDC CAHPS survey is similar to the ACO CAHPS survey and asks questions about healthcare experiences like how hard or easy it is to get appointments, obtain answers to medical questions between visits, and if the patient’s healthcare team listens and explains things in a way that is easy to understand. The survey also asks standard demographic questions. A modified version of the GPDC questionnaire will be implemented for a small group of DCEs focused on patient populations with complex, or “high,” needs.

Who Is Surveyed with the Global and Professional Direct Contracting CAHPS?

All Medicare beneficiaries who visited a DCE for primary care in the past 12 months are eligible for the GPDC CAHPS survey. CMS selects a random sample of eligible beneficiaries from each DCE to be surveyed, and the number of patients CMS selects for samples depends on the DCE type and the number of providers participating in the DCE. Patients who have received hospice care, are deceased, or reside in nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities are exempt.

How Do I Administer the GPDC CAHPS Survey?

GPDC CAHPS surveys are administered by certified survey vendors like Press Ganey for approximately 12 weeks (about three months) starting in the fall. Patients sampled for the survey will receive up to two mailed surveys and six phone calls. The survey takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.

Why Is the Survey Important for the GPDC Model?

Survey feedback helps organizations understand and act on patients’ needs. Positive patient experience indicates high-quality care has been provided—and helps CMS validate that the GPDC model doesn’t jeopardize care quality for cost savings. CMS provides participating DCEs with an Annual Quality Performance Report, enabling GPDC–model participants to identify opportunities for improvement and deliver better care.

How Does GPDC CAHPS Surveying Benefit Patients?

GPDC CAHPS surveys give patients the opportunity to provide experience feedback on their DCE, care provider, and site staff. In turn, these insights help organizations better address patient needs and improve care delivery. Since participating in GPDC CAHPS incentivizes DCEs to provide high-quality care, the model can improve health outcomes and help reduce harm to patients.

How Do Global and Professional Direct Contracting CAHPS Surveys Improve Healthcare Delivery?

Collecting patient experience feedback on several facets of healthcare delivery provides DCEs with valuable insights when combined with a continuous listening strategy. Organization leaders can leverage this information to assess care gaps and develop specific improvement strategies. And everyone benefits from DCEs providing better care—from patients experiencing better health outcomes to healthcare systems reducing costs. Press Ganey offers benchmarks, consulting services, and additional tools to ensure success.

How Can My Organization Get Started with GPDC CAHPS?

If your DCE participates in the GPDC model, you’ll want to consult a CMS–approved survey vendor, such as Press Ganey, to administer your GPDC CAHPS survey and help leaders stay up to date on all associated requirements. Press Ganey also offers continuous patient experience insights through flexible outreach options, consulting solutions, industry-leading expertise, and compliance management to assist participating sites in adhering to survey requirements.

The GPDC CAHPS survey is a standard measurement tool for all DCEs participating in the GPDC model. To ensure your organization meets the survey requirement, it’s critical to understand the basics of the model and survey program, how to implement the survey, and what vendor to partner with to administer the GPDC CAHPS survey.

Read more about CAHPS surveys and regulatory offerings or speak with an expert to learn how your organization can best measure patient experience and comply with CMS requirements.