Home Health & Hospice

New Protocol Limits HHCAHPS Survey Response Data Vendors Can Give to HHAs

Homecare Insider, July 30, 2012

Effective immediately, HHCAHPS survey vendors may no longer share individual responses to certain questions with home health agencies (HHAs) unless the patient gives permission, according to an announcement on the HHCAHPS website. The change supports an effort to ensure that patients’ survey data are kept confidential and their right to privacy is protected.

HHCAHPS survey vendors are able to supply survey responses linked to a sample patient’s name and other identifying information if the sample patient gave his or her consent. However, it was reported in the announcement that some vendors give HHA clients de-identified responses from surveys completed by all respondents, regardless of whether the patients gave their consent to release their survey responses to the HHA.

Although it is acceptable to provide de-identified survey responses to the core questions (Questions 1–25) without the patient’s consent, providing survey responses to the questions that ask for health status and demographic information (Questions 26–32) may enable HHAs with small sample sizes to link survey responses to a specific patient.

The announcement notes that as a result, CMS has decided that it is unacceptable for HHCAHPS vendors to provide responses to the “About You” questions in the HHCAHPS Survey questionnaire to HHAs, even if those responses are de-identified. Unless survey respondents give their consent to share their survey responses linked to their identifying information, HHCAHPS vendors can no longer share responses to Questions 26–32 with HHAs.

For more information, visit the HHCAHPS website.