Each year, PRC participates in the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey vendor training to stay up to date on CAHPS happenings. So what did we find out this year? HCAHPS has some big changes headed our way for 2019!
Communication About Pain
Many people already know about the removal of the Communication About Pain questions starting with October 2019 discharges. In addition to the removal of this dimension, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) strongly recommends hospitals refrain from using supplemental questions related to pain. This is not currently a requirement, but worth reviewing with your internal team if you have any supplemental questions related to pain.
Supplemental Question Placement
Supplemental questions (the custom questions added by hospital request) were previously allowed to be placed either after the HCAHPS core questions or after the “About You” section. Starting with October 2019 discharges, supplemental questions will need to be placed at the end of the official CAHPS survey. The new required transition statement will follow the HCAHPS survey before any supplemental questions:
“[This next question is]/[These next questions are] from [NAME OF HOSPITAL] and [is/are] not part of the official survey.”
Self-Rated Mental Health
With the inclusion of VA hospitals to public reporting on Hospital Compare, CMS feels the variation among hospitals regarding self-rated mental health now needs to be addressed in the Patient-Mix Adjustment (PMA). Self-Rated Mental Health will be included in the PMA starting with publicly- reported results for July 2018 discharges. The first public reporting to incorporate this change will be published in July 2019. It is expected to make only a slight impact for most hospitals; as CMS noted, “…adding mental health PMA changes top-box scores by 1 point or less for 72-100% of hospitals…”
Individual Question Scores
In late 2018, CMS shared for the first time the national average top box scores for individual HCAHPS survey questions that are used to calculate the composite score. This new information was provided in response to requests from hospitals, consumer groups, and patients who wanted more information for use in process improvement work and decision-making. CMS will continue to provide this data quarterly. Later this summer, CMS plans to include individual survey question scores in the hospital preview reports. The individual survey question scores will NOT be displayed on Hospital Compare, but they will be included in the downloadable database.
CMS continues to adjust the HCAHPS survey and reporting as needed to keep up with the healthcare marketplace. If you would like further details on these topics, please visit the HCAHPS Online page or reach out to PRC’s internal CAHPS team.