How to prepare for a CAHPS Hospice Survey

At its core, hospice care is focused on ensuring the comfort of patients in their final days. This care extends to the patient’s family as well, ensuring that they are adequately informed and supported throughout hospice care.

While such an altruistic goal should mean that every hospice company will provide the highest quality service and support, that’s not always the case. That’s why regulations and regular surveying — such as through the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Hospice Survey — are necessary to help enforce compliance with regulations and guarantee competent care.

The purpose of the CAHPS Hospice Survey

The Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Hospice Survey is a national, monthly survey of family members or friends who cared for a patient who passed away while under hospice care.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a U.S. federal agency that provides numerous Medicare hospice regulations, developed the survey with input from a number of hospice care stakeholders: government agencies, consumer groups, industry partners, and other key organizations and individuals. Its purpose is to posthumously measure and assess the patient experience and identify national priorities for improving care.

The survey includes 47 questions across eight categories (six composite measures and two global measures):

  • Communication with family
  • Getting timely help
  • Treating patient with respect
  • Emotional and spiritual support
  • Help for pain and symptoms
  • Training the family to care for patient
  • Rating of hospice
  • Willingness to recommend this hospice

Every hospice with 50 or more survey-eligible patient-family caregiver pairs is required to participate in the survey to receive its full Medicare annual payment update.

Two exemptions exist for the above requirement:

  • Size: If a hospice serves fewer than 50 caregiver pairs during the reference year, it can apply for a size exemption on the hospice survey website.
  • Newness: If a hospice receives its CMS certification number (CCN) after January 1 of the data collection year, it’s automatically exempted from survey participation for that year only.

Clearly, this survey is significant for monetary reasons, but that’s not all there is to consider. The survey results are published on the Medicare Care Compare website, which patients and their families use to find information about providers and facilities and make informed decisions on where to receive health-related services such as hospice care. If your facility receives poor reviews through the survey, your marketability will suffer.

The CAHPS Hospice Survey is an important tool not only for patients and their families to assess the patient experience but also for hospices to identify care deficiencies. To ensure you have the best chance at receiving high ratings from a patient’s family or friends, consider the tips below.

6 tips for preparing for a CAHPS Hospice Survey

The following tips are based on a selected question from each of the six composite survey categories.

1. Communication with family

Sample CAHPS Hospice Survey question: While your family member was in hospice care, how often did the hospice team explain things in a way that was easy to understand?

Healthcare can be complicated, especially when dealing with complex conditions. Be sure that your physicians, nurses, and other staff members are taking the time to ensure families fully understand what their loved one is going through and what to expect in terms of caring for the patient.

2. Getting timely help

Sample question: How often did you get the help you needed from the hospice team during evenings, weekends, or holidays?

Patient issues can arise at any time — not just when it’s convenient for your staff to handle them. Properly assess the needs of each patient and ensure you have enough staff to cover these needs around the clock, even if it’s just someone staffing a phone to answer questions a family caregiver may have on a Saturday night.

3. Treating patient with respect

Sample question: While your family member was in hospice care, how often did the hospice team treat your family member with dignity and respect?

Patients and their families expect more from your staff than simply adhering to job duties. They want those who care for their family member to treat them with kindness and patience. Keep this in mind when training staff.

4. Emotional and spiritual support

Sample question: While your family member was in hospice care, how much emotional support did you get from the hospice team?

Patients often need physical and emotional care, but so do their family members who are preparing to lose a loved one. That’s where staff members like social workers are important. Ensure they properly address not only the emotions and concerns of the patient, but also those of their family members.

5. Help for pain and symptoms

Sample question: Did your family member get as much help with pain as he or she needed?

Comfort is a high priority for most hospice patients, as their illnesses often present many painful symptoms. Be sure your physicians are taking the time to properly assess a patient’s pain and prescribe medicines accordingly.

6. Training the family to care for the patient

Sample question: Did the hospice team give you the training you needed about if and when to give more pain medicine to your family member?

Pain management is essential, but it becomes even more important when a family member is addressing this need. It’s critical that your hospice provide proper training — including what to look for in patients who have difficulty communicating — to ensure the patient will get help for their pain.

CAHPS Hospice Survey preparations and much more with Jotform

Jotform Enterprise is a secure solution that helps hospices operate more efficiently so they can focus less on paperwork and more on patient care. Jotform has a number of customizable, easy-to-build forms for referrals, consent, discharges, and even surveys.

What better way to prepare for your next CAHPS Hospice Survey than to preemptively identify issues in a brief patient satisfaction survey like this one? Modify the template questions to model the CAHPS version or simplify them to get a quick pulse check on care. Start building forms for your hospice business today.

Photo by cottonbro studio

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