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Frequently Asked Questions about Home Health CAHPS®

What is CAHPS and HH-CAHPS®?

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has a branch named The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). This branch, AHRQ, funds and administers a program named Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®).

The CAHPS® program is a " family of standardized surveys that ask consumers and patients to report on and evaluate their experiences with health care." 1

One of the surveys belonging to the CAHPS® family of surveys is the CAHPS® Home Health Care Survey (HH-CAHPS®).

The HH-CAHPS® survey currently consists of 32-34 questions that ask the consumer to evaluate their experiences with a certain home health agencies.

Who will need to conduct HH-CAHPS® surveys?

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is requiring that each home health agency that provides care for 60 or more patients annually must conduct HH-CAHPS® surveys.

CMS considers each entity with a separate CMS Certification Number (CCN), formerly known as Medicare Provider Number, a separate agency.

Why is HH-CAHPS® required?

According to the CMS website 2, the purpose of implementing CAHPS® in the Home Health industry is to create a standardized customer feedback tool that allows the results to be publicly reported. Publishing the results of these surveys will:

How will the surveys be administered?

CMS is allowing the HH-CAHPS® surveys to be administered by mail, telephone or mixed mode, which is a combination of both.

CMS will not allow home health agencies to conduct their own HH-CAHPS® surveys. Agencies must contract with a CMS-approved vendor to administer the HH-CAHPS® survey for the agency.

Each agency will need to have at least 300 completed surveys each year. If an agency does not have enough patients to complete the desired amount of surveys, then the agency must complete as many as possible.

The surveys will be administered each month to a random sampling of patients with the goal of completing 25 surveys monthly.

Is there room for customization?

The CAHPS® guidelines allow for supplemental questions to be added to the end of the HH-CAHPS® survey. The supplemental questions are not regulated.

When will the HH-CAHPS® requirement be implemented?

The following timeline illustrates the planned rollout of the CAHPS® requirement

August - September 2009 - Vendor Training and Selection
October 2009 –  June 2010 Voluntary Participation for Home Health Agencies
July, August, or September 2010 – "Dry Run" Participation
April 2011 – 4th Quarter 2010 results submitted to CMS
April 2012 – First Year’s Results published on

What is the dry run?

Agencies will have the opportunity to conduct a "dry run" in which the surveys will be conducted and delivered to CMS, but will never be made available to the public. The dry run will be an opportunity for agencies to test the process. The dry run is required during any month during third quarter of 2010.

How will the results be published?

Once CMS has gathered a years worth of data, results from the last 12 months will be posted in the Home Health Compare section of the website. The results available online will be updated every three months to include the most recent quarter in the rolling 12 month scores. Users of the website will be able to compare agency survey results to national and state averages as well as to other agencies.

What if an agency gets poor scores?

There is a proposal to tie HH-CAHPS® results to pay for reporting, which means that all agencies that use HH-CAHPS® get the same monetary compensation. Currently, there is no proposal to tie results to pay for performance, which ties compensation to survey results.

However, because the results will be made public and easily available on the website, agencies will want to achieve the best scores possible in order to maintain a competitive advantage.

What are the agency's responsibilities?

According to the HH-CAHPS® Protocols and Guidelines 3 each agency must:

The vendor, with whom the agency contracts, will be responsible for everything else.

For more information, please contact Pinnacle at or call at 801.293.0700