For the past 3 years CAHPS surveys and scores have been a hot topic at the annual Patient Experience Summit (#PESummit) hosted by Cleveland Clinic. This year, however, there was barely a mention of it. Instead, the concept of “real-time” – for patient access, feedback and communication was the top discussion point.
The Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems (CAHPS) is an annual survey that measures the perceptions of patients of their health plan and the quality of care they receive. The CAPHS Hospital Survey (commonly referred to as HCAHPS) asks patients about the care delivered during an inpatient stay at a hospital facility.
HCAHPS surveys have very specific questions and are usually mailed out to patients after they have been discharged from a facility. The survey can also be administered via telephone or an interactive voice response (IVR) system.
Because of the impact the HCAHPS results have on hospital reimbursement from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the surveys have been a top point of discussion for the past three years at patient experience conferences, including PESummit.
But that wasn’t the case this year.
At #PESummit there was a noticeable lack of HCAHPS discussion. In fact, there was only a single session where HCAHPS was mentioned. Just one! In addition, I did not hear it as a topic of conversation in the hallways between presentations. Instead, the talk was all around providing patients with:
- Real-time access to healthcare (through online booking, provider matching, and EHR portals)
- The ability to provide real-time feedback and make requests of their care team and administrators
- Immediate access to staff who can help address issues via email, text, phone calls and social media
This shift away from HCAHPS was a welcome change. Results from after-the-fact surveys can help guide systemic changes over the long-term but they do little to improve things for patients currently in their room or who want to access care immediately. Only through real-time technologies and processes can this be achieved. Only in this way can healthcare become more consumer-friendly.
To me, the lack of HCAHPS talk at PESummit is evidence that the mindset in healthcare is changing. I feel that there is now genuine movement away from managing patient experience as a check-the-box activity to something that is proactively managed. I see organizations getting creative in their use of technology to bring consumer-like conveniences (example: texting, care navigators, etc.) to healthcare.
I left PESummit feeling encouraged and hopeful.