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Archive June 2018 XIX, No. 6

Who's Handling Your Patient Satisfaction Surveys?

The postponement of the OAS CAHPS program shouldn't delay your search for a CMS-approved vendor.

Daniel Cook

Daniel Cook, Editor-in-Chief


VALUABLE FEEDBACK Approved vendors will contact a sampling of patients by phone, snail mail and perhaps e-mail to measure the patient experience at your facility.

Yes, CMS has once again delayed rolling out the OAS CAHPS patient satisfaction survey, but it might be wise to shop now for a survey vendor ( to partner with before data collection becomes mandatory, which is believed to be a question of when, not if. Medicare will update its proposed OAS CAHPS rule next month, issue a final rule in November and could finally launch the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Outpatient and Ambulatory Surgery Survey on Jan. 1, 2019.

OAS CAHPS survey vendors will charge surgical centers and hospital outpatient departments a reported $10 to $25 per completed survey. They'll ask your Medicare patients 37 questions about how well they were treated before, during and after their procedures — as well as their highest level of education and primary language. Here are important factors to weigh as you compare vendors.

1. Collection method

As the pay-for-reporting program is currently structured, CMS-approved vendors will contact your patients with a telephone call, a mailed survey or with a mailed survey and follow-up phone call. No email. "I don't think much will change from the original proposed rule, except hopefully the addition of an electronic version," says Crissy Benze, MSN, BSN, RN, senior consultant at Progressive Surgical Solutions, a division of BSM Consulting. "Start reaching out to vendors now to gather information about their services and decide which one you're going to partner with."

The addition of an e-mail option might add another variable to consider, but still ask vendors how they will contact your patients and decide which option is best for your facility and patient population, says healthcare attorney Mark Weiss of Santa Barbara, Calif.

Mr. Weiss says working with a vendor that relies exclusively on paper surveys creates a potential issue. Will patients throw them away and not respond, preventing your facility from collecting the 300 completed surveys a year that CMS requires? If you're already sending out your own paper patient satisfaction surveys, Mr. Weiss says it might make sense to partner with a vendor that conducts phone call surveys, so your patients don't get confused when 2 envelopes show up in the mail.

When considering vendors who contact patients by phone, ask for detailed information about who places the calls and what type of customer service training they have. "The reps won't be employees of your facility," says Mr. Weiss, "but it's not a stretch to think patients will associate the interactions with your facility."

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