The CMS is interested in making changes to its mandatory and long-standing patient experience survey for hospitals.
In a notice to the Office of Management and Budget, the CMS requested approval to collect public feedback on possible changes to the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey, commonly referred to as HCAHPS.
The agency issued the notice in early April as part of requirement under the Paperwork Reduction Act. Since these notices are asking for permission to conduct a request for information, they are often viewed as preliminary steps in the regulatory process.
The notice specifically asked that the CMS be able to gather public comments on the possibility of offering an electronic version of the HCAHPS survey but an agency spokeswoman said in an email to Modern Healthcare that the "survey content may change as a result" of the comments. The survey is currently only administered via mail, phone or a mix of both. The 29-question survey has a response rate of 27%, according to the most recent time period data are available.
Akin Demehin, director of quality policy at the American Hospital Association, said in a statement that the notice is "just a first step but a welcome and important one."
"We look forward to engaging the agency further as its plans for electronic CAHPS survey data capture continue to evolve," he added.
In addition to feedback from stakeholders, the agency spokeswoman said the CMS also wants patient insight "about what aspects of hospital quality are important to them."
Comments to OMB closed May 16 and the CMS is still awaiting approval before they can go forward with a public information request.