3 Ways to Improve Patient Experience Through ICH CAHPS

3 Ways to Improve Patient Experience Through ICH CAHPS

3 Ways to Improve Patient Experience Through ICH CAHPS

People receiving in-center hemodialysis (ICH) spend large portions of their time in Medicare-certified dialysis facilities. When patients are involved in their care, the outcomes are far better than when providers make most of the care decisions. Because of this, CMS deemed it important to measure patient experiences through the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) In-Center Hemodialysis Survey. This CMS mandated program that dialysis facilities must implement to survey patients twice a year through a third party vendor has 62 questions and patients can choose to take the survey by phone or on paper.

The ICH CAHPS enables patients’ experiences to be given a priority and promotes patient-centered care at dialysis clinics by providing direction to administrators and improving clinical and staff processes. However, the low response rate of only 34% of patients in 2017 reveals some inhibiting factors to the program’s intended goals. The low response rates, possibly due to the complexity of the survey, result in inadequate understanding of the patient experience for administrators and lack of necessary changes at the facility level.

Tips to maximize the patients’ experience through ICH CAHPS include:

  • Educate patients on ICH CAHPS survey process, intention, and ways to get help in completing the survey. Refer to the Do and Don’t list on the ICH CAHPS website, when speaking with patients, so that the staff at the facility are equipped to provide unbiased information to patients.
  • Ask facility specific questions through supplemental questions of the survey to appropriately understand patient experience at the facility. List the specific challenges at the facility and direct questions in this area. Patients are likely to be more open and honest through anonymous survey techniques and will provide candid information for administration.
  • Target to improve one category at a time instead of all areas at once. The survey questions are from 3 broad categories – Nephrologists’ Care & Communication, Quality of Dialysis Care, and Providing Information to Patients. By focusing on improving processes and patient education on one category at a time, the message will be more concise and well received by the patients. Also, use multiple channels to convey the message, such as through staff-patient coaching, a communication plan for caregivers, providing the information in writing, etc in order to close gaps in communication.

Palmarius Consulting in collaboration with Renal Services Exchange, is offering virtual workshop series on boosting patient experience through ICH CAHPS. The series is offered as 4 one-hour sessions between March 7 2019 to April 25 2019, with email and phone support between the sessions to create and implement a well-defined ICH CAHPS program. Please click here for details on this series and to sign up.

For comments or questions on ICH CAHPS or any topic related to patient care or process improvement, please contact us below and sign up for our newsletter.

For more information on quality improvements to your dialysis facility, use the contact form below.


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