6 changes coming to HCAHPS in 2025

CMS is making key changes to HCAHPS to modernize the survey and increase patient response rates, the agency said in its Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System final rule released Aug. 1. 

The survey's main mode of administration — paper — and its question sets have remained largely unchanged since CMS launched HCAHPS in 2008, according to Rick Evans, senior vice president of patient services and chief experience officer of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. 

"This has led us to a point where, if HCAHPS is not updated, its credibility as a reliable source of data on patient needs and preferences is in jeopardy," Mr. Evans wrote in an April column for Becker's in response to the proposed changes. 

Below are six survey changes that will take effect in 2025. HCAHPS scores collected under the modernized process will be reflected in hospitals' payment determinations for fiscal year 2027.

1. CMS will allow patients to fill out the HCAHPS survey online, as opposed to only over the phone or by mail. In a 2021 pilot run, CMS found adding an option for electronic administration increased survey response rates. 

2. CMS will end a regulation that prohibits patients' loved ones from filling out the survey on their behalf. 

3. The data collection period for the survey will extend from 42 days to 49. 

4. CMS will limit the number of supplemental items to 12 to align with its other patient experience surveys. 

5. Hospitals will be required to collect information about what language a patient speaks. Spanish-speaking patients must be presented with the official CMS Spanish translation of the survey. 

6. CMS will sunset two current survey administration options — the Active Interactive Voice Response and the Hospitals Administering HCAHPS for Multiple Sites survey modes — which have not been used by any hospitals since 2016 and 2019, respectively.  

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