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Improving Home Health CAHPS Results: Information on Provider Arrival Time

The Home Health Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HHCAHPS) patient engagement survey impacts the bottom line of home health agencies primarily by attracting referral sources and value-based reimbursement. It is imperative for organizations to understand the HHCAHPS survey, and work on improving each measure for maximizing long-term growth and sustainability.

Information on Provider Arrival Time – Question 15

Question 15 is one of six questions included in the Communications Between Providers and Patients domain that are designed to assess how effectively healthcare providers communicate with patients.

Communications Between Providers and Patients

“Patients who reported that their home health team always communicated well.” Responses
Q2. When you first started getting home health care from this agency, did someone from the agency tell you what care and services you would get? Yes, No
Q15. In the last 2 months of care, how often did home health providers from this agency keep you informed about when they would arrive at your home? Never, Sometimes, Usually, Always
Q17. In the last 2 months of care, how often did home health providers from this agency explain things in a way that was easy to understand? Never, Sometimes, Usually, Always
Q18. In the last 2 months of care, how often did home health providers from this agency listen carefully to you? Never, Sometimes, Usually, Always
Q22. In the last 2 months of care, when you contacted this agency’s office did you get the help or advice you needed? Yes, No
Q23. When you contacted this agency’s office, how long did it take for you to get the help or advice you needed? Same day, 1 to 5 days, 6 to 14 days, More than 14 days

This question seeks to assess the patient’s perception of how frequently home healthcare providers communicated their visit arrival times.

Suggestions for Improving Communications

  • Establish visit expectations at the Start of Care by setting time ranges for appointments (e.g., “We will arrive at your home between 2 and 2:15 p.m. and will notify you when we run late”).
  • Allow for possible service delays when setting times, and communicate any known delays to the patient or their family or caregivers ahead of time.
  • Provide appointment reminders for upcoming visits, and adjust the frequency that reminders are delivered, as needed.
  • Educate all staff on notifying the patient before arriving for each scheduled visit, especially if there are delays.

Ensuring patient awareness of visit times is essential to optimize patient involvement in care, and establish a communicative patient-provider relationship. Communication related to visit scheduling and arrival times should begin at admission and continue throughout the duration of care.

Consider Potential Barriers to Communication

Consider potential barriers (e.g., memory loss and other cognitive changes associated with aging) that may impact the patient’s recollection or perception of communication with providers. Agencies should develop processes to help patients remember the agreed upon visit schedule and anticipate visits, and educate agency staff on established protocol.  For instance, clinicians can provide calendar print-outs outlining scheduled visits for the patient’s reference.

Agencies should also provide appointment reminders, and can adjust the frequency patients receive reminders, as needed.  Data collected in a patient experience study suggest that patients may perceive appointment reminders as an indication that their providers care about them personally, thus enhancing the patient’s perception of visit communication and the patient-provider relationship overall.

Agencies should internally discuss different methods of enhancing patient communication on an ongoing basis, and use these suggestions for developing operational strategies to optimize patient experience.

Check our blogs for the series on improving your agency’s HHCAHPS scores by systematically reviewing each of the HHCAHPS questions and sharing opportunities for improvement.

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