Last Updated on September 28, 2023
As the standard for assessing the quality of a patient experience offered by a health plans and providers, CAHPS® surveys and HCAHPS scores have become an integral part of the healthcare industry. With more than a dozen different types available, most providers are involved in CAHPS surveys to some extent. Yet it’s a complex and difficult process, and rarely given the full attention it deserves.
The truth is, CAHPS surveys offer a variety of benefits for providers. By taking steps to improve the data collected in these surveys, leaders can not only improve their CAHPS or HCAHPS scores, but boost their revenue, too.
With that in mind, here’s a closer look at the different types of CAHPS surveys, and how they impact healthcare revenue for providers of all types, including hospitals, nursing homes, and many others.
What is the CAHPS Survey?
Pronounced “caps,” CAHPS is a system for measuring the quality of the patient experience. Short for “Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems,” it’s an effort to apply a single, consistent standard across the industry. Originally designed for health plans and payers, CAHPS has since expanded to cover many different types of healthcare providers.
The first CAHPS survey was created in 1995 by the Agency for the Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), a subsection of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Today, many are administered under the supervision of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which created the hospital version of the survey (HCAHPS) in 2006.
Types of CAHPS Surveys
There are now more than a dozen different types of CAHPS surveys. In addition to health plans, many focus on a variety of facilities and provider types. For instance, there are specific surveys for hospitals, nursing homes, clinician groups, hospice care, and home health providers. Others focus on departments within those facilities, like surgical care, in-center hemodialysis, emergency medicine, and more.
- American Indian
- Cancer Care
- Clinician & Group
- Dental Plan
- Emergency Department
- Fee-for-Service (FFS)
- Health Plan (CAHPS)
- Home and Community-Based (HCBS) Services
- Home Health Care
- Hospital (HCAHPS)
- In-Center Hemodialysis
- Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan
- Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)
- Mental Health Care
- Nationwide Adult Medicaid
- Nursing Home
- Outpatient and Ambulatory Surgery
- Surgical Care
As the list of provider types expands, so does the number of eligible organizations. Participation may not be mandatory for every facility yet. But for most healthcare employers in the United States, conducting CAHPS surveys is now simply part of doing business.
Although an unwelcome addition for some, healthcare leaders are finding that CAHPS Surveys offer numerous benefits, including boosting facility revenue. As a result, many are choosing to utilize these surveys to their advantage.
How HCAHPS & CAHPS Surveys Can Benefit Providers
Because the scores of CAHPS surveys like HCAHPS are publicly available, they directly impact those who participate in them. Results are used in search tools offered by CMS, and thus directly seen by patients searching for new providers. So, it isn’t just an organization’s reputation that’s at stake, but also its power to attract new patients. For that reason alone, many providers work to achieve the highest possible score.
But implementing CAHPS surveys is a big job, especially when added to the many other challenges of managing a healthcare workforce. The survey features dozens of questions covering virtually every aspect of an organization’s operations. And the rules for administering it and properly gathering the data can be complex.
On top of that, the results of a CAHPS survey can be unexpected, and sometimes unwelcome. From proper communication by clinicians to a facility’s cleanliness, CAHPS surveys cover the full range of patient experience. As such, the results can expose areas of concern requiring large-scale change.
For that very reason, though, it’s worthwhile for leaders to dedicate time and effort to properly tackling the challenge. Additionally, there’s a growing consensus that it may be better to do so proactively rather than reactively. For instance, doing so can help detect issues before the reporting period. Subsequently, that gives organizations time to correct them before they affect their official quality score.
4 Ways HCAHPS & CAHPS Scores Can Help Drive Healthcare Revenue
Why should leaders invest even more in a process that might already seem like a burden? Here are a few ways that close management of the HCAHPS and CAHPS survey processes can be an effective way to drive revenue for hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare organizations.
#1: Helping Improve Outcomes by Better Engaging Patients
Some experts advise holding regular patient surveys throughout the year to support the overall CAHPS requirements, rather than a single process. This approach can help engage and motivate patients and nursing home residents by letting them know that their opinion is valued. That can help boost outcomes, which can yield more reimbursement dollars and drive patient satisfaction.
#2: Boosting Efficiency and Cutting Costs
Investing in a better survey process can help providers achieve higher response rates to CAHPS surveys. That can translate into better and more useful data to drive meaningful improvements across the organization.
For instance, think of the value in discovering that a large number of patients struggle with the scheduling process, or the communication offered by a particular department and what stage of their journey is giving them the most difficulty. Gaining more info about issues like these makes it easier to correct them. In turn, this can be a powerful tool for cutting costs and putting in place key operational improvements.
#3: Earning New Business with Better HCAHPs Scores
As noted above, the patient satisfaction metrics from HCAHPS and CAHPS surveys are used in the CMS provider search tool. This has a big influence on patients when choosing care providers of all types. In this sense, there’s a direct line between HCAHPS/CAHPS survey results and a facility’s ability to generate new business. Simply put, better results can literally deliver new sources of revenue.
#4: Delivering a Better Patient Experience
Ultimately, improving CAHPS or HCAHPS scores means gaining the insights needed to deliver the best possible patient experience. It empowers caregivers to improve each patient’s specific plan to improve preventive care methods and early detection of chronic disease. In addition, it also increases awareness of patient safety concerns.
A growing library of research suggests that all this also boosts a facility’s ability to grow its revenue. According to the AHRQ, the patient experience is connected with and “processes and outcomes” that drive “adherence to medical advice, better clinical outcomes, improved patient safety practices, and lower utilization of unnecessary healthcare services.”
Other data shows that the average lifetime value of a patient is about $1.4 million, which underlines the impact of each new patient — and each one that’s lost.
Drive Your Patient Experience and Revenue
Besides working on improving CAHPS and HCAHPS scores, other solutions can help leaders drive healthcare revenue and boost their patient experience score, too. For instance, partnering with a leading healthcare recruitment provider can give organizations access to more workers. In turn, this can benefit the patient experience in a number of ways, including reducing patient wait times.
In addition, leaders can leverage healthcare managed service providers (MSPs) to streamline other workforce tasks that impact the patient experience. From scheduling to billing, these services not only help improve efficiency, but accuracy and reliability, too.
Contact CareerStaff today to learn more about how we can help your organization. From nationwide staffing to strategic workforce management, we’re standing by to help with award-winning, Joint Commission-Certified solutions!