Choose your Hospice CAHPS vendor wisely.
Choose a Hospice CAHPS vendor that understands the hospice industry and the challenges that you face. Find a company you can trust and that is responsive to your needs regardless of your agency’s size. Consider how long the vendor has been providing experience of care surveys to hospice agencies and evaluate their experience with other CAHPS programs. CMS CAHPS surveys require a considerable amount of quality assurance checkpoints and regulatory protocols to ensure standardization across all approved vendors. This is no small task for a vendor, especially a new vendor entering the CAHPS arena.
Consider the options.
Vendors come in all shapes and sizes. Some are research companies with an academic approach; some are call centers with little to no healthcare experience; some are consulting companies who use satisfaction as a component to compliment consulting; and some, like HEALTHCAREfirst, are experts in the field of hospice quality measurement.
Understand the fees and how they are billed.
Vendors vary widely in their approach to pricing, which can make comparisons among vendor proposals challenging. Vendor pricing models include flat fee pricing, all-inclusive pay per caregiver, pay per survey (based upon response rate) and itemized à la carte pricing for different reporting packages. Most vendors will charge an annual license fee or contract fee. Make sure you are getting as many value added services as possible from your vendor. Questions to ask vendors you may be considering: Is there a charge for second wave mailings? Is there a charge for detailed reporting, such as patient comments? Is there a data download fee?
Evaluate the types of reports that vendors provide on the data that is collected.
Starting a new Hospice CAHPS program or switching to a new Hospice CAHPS vendor provides agencies with an opportunity to revamp performance improvement programs and implement new quality initiatives. Build your new program with a vendor who will provide month-of-service reporting with an operational and clinical focus. Consider comparative benchmarking reports, ease of data interpretation, ease of accessing reports, and transferring patient level data. Find out how many hospices are included in the benchmark. Find out if your vendor can provide detailed verbatim comment reports and status alerts to notify your agency of critical issues with caregivers. Ask if your vendor provides custom reports for special projects.
Consider customer service.
Implementing a new Hospice CAHPS program or switching Hospice CAHPS vendors can be overwhelming. Make sure your vendor has a dedicated staff member who is there for you and available to answer your questions. Do they offer training on how to read and interpret the reports? Is there a fee for training calls? Do they understand the subtle intricacies of your business and how you are using data to improve quality and performance?
Consider the mode of survey provided.
Hospice CAHPS can be conducted by mail only, telephone only or mixed mode (mail with telephone follow up). Vendors offer some or all of these modes. You can expect that modes involving the phone will be the most expensive due to the resources allocated to such activity. Typically, the most economical option will be mail only and thus is the preferred choice for most agencies.
Consider the administrative burden.
Ask questions about how patient data files will be transferred. Does the vendor work with your electronic health records (EHR) company? Will they walk you through the process of submitting the data file? It is good practice to run a couple of test files before going live with the survey process.
Consider the value of supplemental question sets.
Supplemental question sets provide valuable data for enhanced performance improvement. Does the vendor offer supplemental questions? Does the vendor offer Veterans-specific supplemental questions? How many questions are included in the supplemental question sets? Are detailed reports, benchmarking, and data analysis available for supplemental questions? Is there an additional charge to include supplemental questions with the standard Hospice CAHPS survey tool?