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Home Health CAHPS 101: What this patient survey means for home care organizations

The Home Health (HH) Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) survey was developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to measure the experience of patients receiving care from Medicare-certified home health agencies (HHAs). First used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2009 within the Home Health Quality Reporting Program, the 34-item survey measures patient perceptions on numerous aspects of home healthcare—the results of which are then published to Medicare’s Care Compare website to help consumers make informed decisions about choosing a home healthcare provider. 

With home healthcare surging the past few years and slated to continue growing, it’s essential to understand the basics of this home health survey and how it’s administered.

What is Home Health CAHPS (HH CAHPS)?

The Home Health CAHPS collects feedback from patients on the quality of care received from HHAs. This survey can be completed by the patient or by patient proxy. 

Is participation in Home Health CAHPS mandatory?

CMS requires all home health providers that receive Medicare payments and treat 60 or more patients annually to survey a defined sample of their eligible beneficiaries with the HH CAHPS. Required organizations must contract a CMS-approved home health CAHPS survey vendor, like Press Ganey, to administer the survey each month and submit the data to the HH CAHPS Data Center each quarter. HHAs serving 59 or fewer survey-eligible patients annually may apply for an exemption from this survey requirement.

What types of HH CAHPS questions are asked?

The survey questions ask about important healthcare topics, including communication about and access to care, pain and prescription medicines, the quality of care received from the HHA and overall experience —such as an overall rating of care and the patient’s willingness to recommend the HHA to family and friends. The survey also asks standard demographic questions.  

Who is surveyed with the CAHPS survey for home health?

Generally, adult patients who receive one skilled care visit from Medicare-certified HHAs within the sample month are eligible to take the HH CAHPS survey. Some patients will be ineligible for the survey, including those who received home healthcare for routine maternity care or currently receive hospice care. Survey vendors select a sample of patients to survey and initiate the survey for each month within 21 days after the close of the previous month, submitting the data to the HH CAHPS Data Center on a quarterly basis. 

How do I administer the Home Health CAHPS Survey?

Home Health CAHPS surveys are administered by Medicare-certified survey vendors like Press Ganey on a monthly basis. Patients are surveyed by mail or telephone. The survey takes approximately 12 minutes to complete.  

Why is the Survey important for Medicare-certified home health organizations?  

Survey feedback helps organizations better understand and improve the patient experience (PX) in a home healthcare setting. CMS uses the CAHPS for home health survey within the Home Health Quality Reporting Program, allowing CMS to better measure the quality of care delivered by HHAs. Beginning in CY 2023, CMS will also use the HH CAHPS survey within the Expanded Home Health Value-Based Purchasing Model, tying performance on the survey to Medicare payments. CMS publicly reports the home health CAHPS surveys' data on Medicare’s Care Compare website, incentivizing HHAs to improve care delivery.  

How does home healthcare feedback benefit patients?

Home health CAHPS surveys give patients the opportunity to evaluate their experience of care provided by HHAs. This data is then publicly reported to help consumers choose the best HHA for their care needs. In turn, these insights help organizations address patient needs and improve care delivery—bettering health outcomes and reducing harm to patients in home healthcare settings.

How do the surveys improve healthcare delivery?

Collecting patient experience feedback on several aspects of home healthcare delivery provides HHAs with valuable insights when combined with a continuous listening strategy. Organizations can use this data to identify care gaps and implement targeted improvement strategies. Patients also benefit from the home health CAHPS surveys, as they experience better health outcomes, and HHAs elevate care delivery while reducing costs. Press Ganey offers benchmarks, consulting services, and other tools to ensure successful implementation of HHCAHPS surveys. 

How can my organization get started with CAHPS surveys for home health?

If your HHA is required to implement the home health CAHPS surveys, you’ll want to consult a CMS–approved Home Health CAHPS survey vendor, such as Press Ganey, to administer the survey and help leaders stay up to date on all associated requirements. Press Ganey also offers continuous patient experience insights through flexible survey administration options, consulting solutions, industry-leading expertise, and compliance management to help organizations adhere to survey requirements. 

The home health CAHPS survey is a standard tool for measuring patient experiences with HHAs. To ensure your organization meets HH CAHPS requirements, it’s critical to understand the basics of the survey program, how to implement the survey, and which vendor to partner with to administer the the surveys. 

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

About the author

Press Ganey, a leading healthcare performance improvement solutions company, offers an integrated suite of solutions that put Human Experience at the center of healthcare enterprise transformation. Delivered through a cutting-edge digital platform built on a foundation of data security, Press Ganey solutions address patient experience, healthcare consumer experience, workforce engagement, safety, clinical excellence and more. Guided by its team of renowned healthcare thought leaders, Press Ganey works with more than 41,000 healthcare facilities to reduce patient suffering, enhance caregiver resilience and improve the overall safety, quality and experience of care. Press Ganey is a PG Forsta company.

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