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Archive July 2017 XVIII, No. 7

Are You Ready for OAS CAHPS?

Mandatory participation in CMS's patient-satisfaction program begins in less than 6 months (we think). Here's how to prepare.

Bill Donahue, Senior Editor


collect at least 300 completed surveys SATISFACTION SURVEY ASCs must collect at least 300 completed surveys per year, or an average of 25 per month.

The name's a mouthful: OAS CAHPS. It stands for Outpatient and Ambulatory Surgery Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems. It's a Medicare program designed to let patients compare hospital outpatient departments (HOPDs) with ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs). Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, participation in OAS CAHPS goes from voluntary to mandatory. Here are answers to 10 questions you might be asking.

1. How does OAS CAHPS work?
ASCs and HOPDs must work with CMS-approved survey vendors ( The vendor will administer the 37-question survey to your patients by telephone, mail or mail with telephone follow-up — no email surveys, at least not yet — and then submit the data to CMS.

2. Is this mandatory?
Yes. If you don't participate, CMS may withhold 2% of your Medicare reimbursements.

3. Is a delay possible?
This is a CMS program, so anything's possible. There's a "distinct possibility of a reprieve," says Kara Newbury, JD, regulatory counsel for the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA). This could mean a delay in the Jan. 1 start date, fewer survey questions or an email version.

4. How many completed surveys?
ASCs must collect at least 300 completed surveys over each 12-month reporting period (an average of 25 per month). "Small" ASCs that don't do enough volume to collect 300 surveys over a 12-month reporting period must survey all eligible patients.

On the Web
OAS CAHPS website
Survey vendors

5. How do I select a vendor?
It depends on factors including cost and the survey mode: by phone or by mail. Some vendors do one or the other, while others offer both, and each has its own cost structure.

"We like the mail survey better, though I know we might get a better response by doing both," says Charles Busack, MHA, administrator of Berks Urologic Surgery Center in Reading, Pa. "But if they offer both, they also might charge you more."

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