HCAHPs is coming. Are you prepared?

Later this month, Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) begins live reporting. Are you prepared to be compared on a national quality report as perceived by your consumers? Kevin Stranberg, consultant with Baird Group, offers a succinct look at HCAHPS and what you'll need to know about this latest measure of consumer reporting.

Three broad goals have shaped the HCAHPS survey:

  1. Produce comparable data on the patient's perspective on care that allows objective and meaningful comparisons between hospitals on domains that are important to consumers.
  2. Create incentives for hospitals to improve their quality of care.
  3. Enhance public accountability in healthcare by increasing the transparency of the quality of hospital care provided in return for the public investment.

This is the first time that there will be national reporting on quality from the perspective of consumers, according to CMS. The instrument asks patients to rate the frequency of events during their care (never, sometimes, usually, always).

The survey will cover 27 total questions reported in the following domains:

  • 4 screener questions
  • 5 demographic items
  • 16 patient rating and patient perspectives on care items that encompass seven key categories:
    1. Communication with Doctors
    2. Communication with Nurses
    3. Responsiveness of Hospital Staff
    4. Pain Control
    5. Communication about Medicines
    6. Cleanliness of the Physical Environment
    7. Quietness of the Physical Environment
  • Discharge Information
  • 2 global assessment questions
    1. Using any number from 0 to 10, where 0 is the worst hospital possible and 10 is the best hospital possible, what number would you use to rate this hospital during your stay?
    2. Would you recommend this hospital to your friends and family?
      • Definitely no
      • Probably no
      • Probably yes
      • Definitely yes

Facilities were asked to designate a "vendor of choice" for HCAHPS. HCAHPS information from inpatient surveys will be sent directly to CMS for analysis and posting to the hospital compare website. Once the HCAHPS survey is fully implemented, the results will be publicly reported on the Hospital Compare website or through a link Medicare's website.

First-reporting data from approximately 2,700 hospitals will be available by the end of March 2008. It will include reported inpatient data from October 2006 through June 2007. The information presented on the website will be Top Box information only (unless the consumer drills down to get additional information). There will be no information on results from specific questions (only categories and global assessment). Information will be reported for a rolling twelve months of data. Only composite information will be available to consumers at this time.

Facilities will have a preview period of 30 days to review their data prior to the public release. Facilities are encouraged to review the data during that time to assure of its accuracy. AHA will be providing a toolkit of information for hospitals when dealing with the media on the issue of HCAHPS.

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