A forthcoming CMS patient survey meant to assess quality of care at inpatient rehabilitation facilities should assess the experience of care, industry leaders say.
In November, the CMS announced its plans to create a survey and requested comments on what it should entail. The agency received 18 comments by the Jan. 19 deadline.
The agency hopes to track care in the facilities to ensure that patients and their families are engaged in effective communication and coordination of care.
On average, Medicare fee-for-service accounts for about 61% of IRFs' discharges. In 2013, Medicare spent $6.8 billion on fee-for-service IRF care provided in about 1,160 IRFs nationwide. About 338,000 beneficiaries had more than 373,000 IRF stays.
Industry stakeholders support the survey but want to differentiate between assessing a patient's experience of care and satisfaction with care.
“Patient experience captures data on what actually occurred during the patient's episode of care, whereas satisfaction is subjective in that it is an evaluation of that encounter,” the American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association says in a comment.
For instance, if a patient reports long wait times by nursing and other clinical staff to requests for help, the provider can address that directly, whereas if the patient was dissatisfied with the response, no matter how timely, it may be more difficult to identify mechanisms to address this dissatisfaction, the association says.
The CMS should also consider tracking whether the IRF's nurse liaison properly communicates with patients, the New Jersey Hospital Association says.
There is also hope that the CMS will modernize surveys which are still conducted mostly on paper or by phone. The agency should use electronic surveys, according to Pennsylvania-based WellSpan Surgery and Rehabilitation Hospital.
Electronic surveys are more cost effective, faster and eliminate waste for the approximately 66.7% of patients who do not complete surveys, the hospital says.
The CMS did not say when the survey will be released.