2017 OAS CAHPS: Should Your ASC Implement CMS’ Survey in 2017?

By September 19, 2017 June 11th, 2019 ASC Management, Payor Contracting
2017 OAS CAHPS: Should Your ASC Implement CMS’ Survey in 2017?

The Outpatient and Ambulatory Surgery Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Provider and Systems (OAS CAHPS) collects information about patients’ experiences of care in ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) and hospital outpatient departments (HOPDs). The survey gathers patient perceptions related to communication and care provided by surgery staff, expectations prior to surgery, and planning related to discharge and recovery. Enforced implementation of the survey has been delayed until 2018, with the specific date being released this November. Surgery centers across the country are deciding if they should implement the survey as planned, or wait until the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) begins enforcing survey implementation.

To assist in decision making, it’s helpful to review information regarding the OAS CAHPS Survey.

Why is CMS developing this survey?

  1. The number of ASCs has increased considerably in recent years as has the surgical case volume at both ASCs and HOPDs.
  2. Medicare expenditures from outpatient surgical sites for ASCs and HOPDs also continues to rise.
  3. Implementation of OAS CAHPS will provide CMS with statistically valid data on the patient experience to inform quality improvement and comparative consumer information about outpatient surgery facilities.

The results of the OAS CAHPS will be used to:

  1. Provide CMS with information for monitoring and public reporting purposes,
  2. Provide a source of information enabling prospective patients to make informed decisions in outpatient surgery facility selection, and
  3. Aid facilities with their internal quality improvement efforts and external benchmarking comparatively with other facilities.

What modes are available to administer the OAS CAHPS?

  1. Mail only
  2. Telephone only
  3. Mixed mode (mail survey with telephone follow-up of non-respondents)
  4. An electronic mode of surveying is currently under review.

How often is the OAS CAHPS administered?

  1. Surveys are administered on an ongoing basis.
  2. An annual minimum of 300 surveys must be completed for each facility.
  3. Participating facilities will provide a monthly sample of patients who received at least one surgery or procedure during the sample month to their survey vendor.
  4. Vendors will initiate surveys within three weeks after the sample month closes.
  5. Once a survey has been initiated it must be completed within six weeks.

The OAS CAHPS may be administered in conjunction with other surveys but sampling methods need to be followed to ensure patients are not overburdened by multiple surveys.

  1. For each sample month, the survey vendor must select the OAS CAHPS sample prior to selecting the samples for any other ASC survey.
  2. The ASCs cannot select the sample for any other facility survey they may choose to implement.
  3. The vendor must select the sample because the sample selection for OAS CAHPS cannot be disclosed to the facility.

OAS CAHPS Survey Implementation

  1. National voluntary implementation began in January 2016 with required participation scheduled to begin January 2018. CMS has proposed delaying implementation of the mandated 2018 date. The decision will be released in Medicare’s final 2018 ASC payment rule this November.
  2. It is unlikely the delay will be permanent because CAHPS surveys are already mandated in hospitals, home health, hospice, and dialysis centers.
  3. ASCs that have voluntarily participated in OAS CAHPS have received valuable information about the quality of outpatient care provided at their facility.

There are pros and cons to implementing the survey now versus waiting until CMS mandates the survey next year. It is often better to prepare early. What should administrators consider in determining what is best for their center?

Reasons to delay the OAS CAHPS Survey until 2018:

  1. Financial and administrative burden of submitting the data.
  2. Decision on the electronic survey mode option.

Reasons to implement the OAS CAHPS Survey now:

  1. You will know where your surgery center stands before mandatory reporting begins.
  2. You will have an opportunity to address identified issues for improved survey results.
  3. You can learn and understand your patients’ perceptions and make changes to increase overall satisfaction.
  4. Post-discharge surveying allows for a better assessment of the entire surgery process.

Peak One Surgery Center located in Frisco, Colorado has chosen to move forward with implementation of the OAS CAHPS survey now. It was an easy decision for us because it will allow us to get ahead of the competition. We can build out processes with our vendor and adjust our internal reporting systems. There will also be time for staff, physicians, and administration to learn the program. When my fellow administrators ask, I advise them to begin work with a vendor on voluntary implementation of the OAS CAHPS survey to avoid being at a disadvantage when the survey becomes mandatory.


Michaela Halcomb, Director of Operations

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