New CAHPS Hospice Survey a Goldmine of Patient, Employee Data

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Amy Shellhart By Amy Shellhart 
Director, Product Management, McKesson
Caregiver connects with home care patient

Cold, hard data is a misnomer when it comes to the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Hospice Survey. In fact, there’s a wealth of fascinating patient and employee information to be mined from the survey, which became a requirement for hospice organizations this year. As hospice executives know, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is imposing a 2% payment reduction for entities that are not participating.

A New Source to Inform Opportunities

Hospice leaders should treat the new survey as an opportunity. The data from it will be reported in 2017, and survey expert Zeb Clayton of Strategic Healthcare Programs says there’s no time to waste. “Getting your scores as high as possible will be really important,” he says. “Hospice scores tend to be high to begin with, so organizations that want to look good will need to step it up.”

The core survey includes 47 questions in nine domains. Clayton notes that although some CAHPS questions correspond closely with questions from the Family Evaluation of Hospice Care (FEHC) survey, many are worded differently and some are entirely new. He said some scores will be lower in CAHPS because people are more likely to say “yes” to a question like “Did the hospice team explain the plan of care to you in a way that you could understand?” (FEHC) than “always” to a question like “While your family member was in hospice care, how often did the hospice team explain things in a way that was easy to understand?” (CAHPS)

Top 5 Most Problematic Questions in the New CAHPS Hospice Survey

Clayton’s analysis of the dry run earlier this year showed the five most problematic (in terms of low scores) to be:

  • Q27: How often did your family member get the help he or she needed from the hospice team for feelings of anxiety or sadness? (65%)
  • Q29: Did the hospice team give you the training you needed about what to do if your family member became restless or agitated? (66%)
  • Q19: Did the hospice team give you the training you needed about what side effects to watch for from pain medication? (66%)
  • Q6: How often did the hospice team keep you informed about when they would arrive to care for your family member? (71%)
  • Q25: How often did your family member get the help he or she needed for trouble with constipation? (73%)

Maximizing Your CAHPS Scores

It’s critical for hospice workers to use the wording from the survey and reinforce the fact that they are receiving training. “Know what family members are going to be asked. For most hospices, the primary caregiver for nearly every patient is going to be surveyed unless the caregiver is marked as ‘no publicity,’ ” Clayton explains.

Then it’s on to data analysis—but these are numbers hospice executives can immediately relate to. Look for patterns such as caregivers consistently receiving low scores on training and help them understand the level of communication that needs to take place with the family caregiver, says Clayton.

Of course, the data is not all about statistics. Positive comments can be posted publicly for all to see, giving a much-needed morale boost to outstanding hospice nurses and aides.

Want to provide compassionate care to more hospice patients? Explore this e-book, “Provide Care to More Hospice Patients,” designed to help hospice organizations recognize the opportunities amid the challenges they face.

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