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OAS CAHPS 101: What Hospital Outpatient Departments and Ambulatory Surgical Centers Need to Know

If your hospital is Medicare-certified, chances are you’ve heard of the Outpatient and Ambulatory Surgery Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems, or OAS CAHPS. Survey development began in 2012, and it received CAHPS accreditation in 2015. Because of the impact that survey performance may have on your Medicare payments in the near future, it’s vital to understand how this assessment works and how it may affect your organization. Let’s remove the mystery and explore some key basics. 

WHAT IS OAS CAHPS?  

Developed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the OAS CAHPS survey collects patient care feedback in Medicare-certified hospital outpatient departments (HOPDs) and ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs). This survey gathers vital statistics about patient perspectives on care for a specific facility. 

WHAT IS THE OAS CAHPS REPORTING PERIOD? 

OAS CAHPS surveys are administered on an ongoing basis. Annually, participating organizations are expected to collect a minimum of 300 completed surveys. Survey results from HOPDs and ASCs that voluntarily collect and report the data to CMS are publicly available on the Provider Data Catalog website.  This transparency step motivates high performance among HOPDs and ASCs and encourages patients to make informed decisions when selecting a facility for a surgery or procedure.  

IS PARTICIPATION IN THE OAS CAHPS SURVEY MANDATORY? 

Conducting this survey is currently voluntary. In November 2021, CMS announced OAS CAHPS will continue to be voluntary through 2023 and will be mandatory beginning in 2024 for HOPDs and 2025 for ASCs. Non-compliant organizations will be subject to annual rate reductions in their Medicare payments. Once mandatory, all OAS CAHPS results will also be publicly reported. 

WHAT TYPES OF QUESTIONS DOES THE SURVEY ASK? 

OAS CAHPS asks about patients’ experiences, including communications with doctors, nurses and staff about a surgery or procedure, establishment cleanliness, preparation for discharge and recovery, overall rating of the facility, and willingness to recommend the facility to others. The survey also poses several basic demographic questions.  

HOW DO I ADMINISTER THE OAS CAHPS SURVEY? 

As CMS designed OAS CAHPS to be implemented nationally, with the objective of publicly reporting facility-level results, survey administration is standardized. Currently, CMS permits three administration modes: mail-only, telephone-only, and mail with a telephone follow-up. In November 2021, CMS announced they will begin to allow for web-based OAS CAHPS surveying via email in 2022, the first time the organization will accept any digital regulatory surveying. 

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO CONDUCT OAS CAHPS? 

These surveys enable your organization to better understand patient pain points, identify strategic actions you can take to improve patient experience, and generate real-time data that helps drive decision-making. Assessing this information can help you successfully align your team’s practices with standards of care and compare your organization’s performance to state and national averages. Conducting OAS CAHPS before it becomes mandatory will also help your organization prepare and know what to expect once there are financial implications and the data is publicly reported. 

HOW DOES MY ORGANIZATION CONDUCT OAS CAHPS SURVEYS? 

Any Medicare-certified HOPD or ASC can administer OAS CAHPS. To begin, it’s important to contact and work with a CMS-certified survey vendor. A reputable organization will advise you on next steps, equip you with necessary elements to implement OAS CAHPS, and ensure your company leaders are updated with any important regulatory announcements. Press Ganey goes beyond the basics, streamlining your survey delivery with a robust suite of automated and manual tools, consulting solutions, industry-leading expertise, and compliance management.  

HOW DO OAS CAHPS SCORES AND THESE NEW MEASUREMENT MODES BENEFIT PATIENTS?

OAS CAHPS gives patients the opportunity to provide feedback on many aspects of the care received from your organization. Offering additional electronic modes will allow patients more options when responding to the survey, ultimately providing your organization with more insights from a broader range of patients. Generating experience results can help organizations make productive changes, improving overall safety and quality at the patient level. 

HOW DO OAS CAHPS SCORES HELP VARIOUS TYPES OF HEALTHCARE TEAMS IMPROVE CARE DELIVERY? 

By quantifying patient experience, OAS CAHPS provides organizations with tangible insights regarding opportunities for improvement. As these surveys are focused explicitly on critical healthcare aspects, as opposed to amenities, your team can generate a clear and targeted understanding of specific gaps in care.   

Whether your organization already conducts OAS CAHPS or you’re just considering implementing this survey, it’s important to know what’s expected. This includes discussing reporting periods, annual survey volume requirements, administration modes, and partnering with a verified survey vendor when considering implementing OAS CAHPS. 

Read more on our CAHPS surveys and Regulatory offerings or speak with an expert about how your organization can begin assessing patient experience in line with these CMS standards.