Simione™ Healthcare Consultants

Hospice Quality Reporting and Customer Service: Yes, There IS a Connection!

The hospice mission is one of the most highly regarded in healthcare – known for its unfailing commitment to honoring the individual with respect, comfort and family support in some of the most daunting life scenarios.  With so much as stake to preserve that mission, increasing requirements with CMS quality reporting measures warrant better strategies for maximizing customer service – specifically targeting the Hospice Item Set (HIS) and CAHPS Hospice Survey. Hospices who do not comply with the regulations related to HIS and CAHPS will face a 2 percent penalty reduction in reimbursement.

Katherine Northcutt, Senior Manager, Simione Healthcare Consultants, contends that excellence in customer service is a pivotal factor in helping hospice organizations achieve quality outcomes and comply with the related CMS requirements brought on by the Affordable Care Act. “Quality begins when the phone rings,” says Northcutt, “because what we say and do with hospice referrals and admissions impacts the response to care and the perception of that care by patients and their loved ones. Rather than see quality reporting requirements as simply ‘checks and balances’ to ensure hospice is ‘getting it right’, these data provide clear direction to improve the effectiveness of hospice through a higher level of customer service.” 

Northcutt recommends that hospices turn up their sense of urgency at all touch points and continuously educate staff regarding both the HIS and CAHPS Hospice Survey questions, while developing and monitoring tools and strategies to improve the patient and family experience. 

Hospice Item Set

The HIS is a set of data elements that can be used to calculate seven measures related to treatment preferences, beliefs/values addressed, pain screening and assessment, dyspnea screening and treatment, and patients treated with an opioid who are given a bowel regimen. The HIS is not a patient assessment instrument, but many hospices have mapped items to their clinical records or patient assessment forms to build awareness and facilitate timely submission of the HIS-Admission and HIS-Discharge records. This standardized mechanism for abstracting data from the medical record helps to ensure patient identification and determine exclusions for some of the quality measures.

According to Northcutt, hospice organizations have tremendous opportunities to improve quality when they execute an agency-wide customer service strategy that focuses on referrals and admissions, and hastens critical early information captured by the HIS.  What elements of the HIS, if handled with greater urgency and empathy for the patient, present opportunities to improve communication, honor patient’s preferences and beliefs, and manage symptoms from the first time we ask – at the time of admission?” she asks.

CAHPS Hospice Survey

CMS developed the CAHPS Hospice Survey to measure and assess the experiences of patients who died while receiving hospice care, as well as the experiences of their informal primary caregivers. It focuses on patient perspectives on the experience of care rather than patient satisfaction. The CAHPS Hospice Survey measures include: 

  • Hospice team communication
  • Getting timely care
  • Treating family member with respect
  • Providing emotional support
  • Support for religious and spiritual beliefs
  • Getting help for symptoms
  • Information continuity
  • Understanding the side effects of pain medication
  • Getting hospice care training (home setting)

With these very clear parameters, the most successful hospice organizations will be those with a relentless approach to assessing barriers to timely care and refining strategies for customer service – specifically targeting the HIS and CAHPS Hospice Survey questions.  “Exceptional customer service skills and attention to daily clinical practice will directly influence results in quality reporting measures,” Northcutt says.

Simione’s team is uniquely qualified to help your hospice organization improve its quality reporting results.  Starting with referral and admission, we will help you to:

  • Improve conversion rates from all referrals
  • Advocate for hospice and overcome barriers
  • Improve response time and increase the percentage of same-day admits
  • Enhance patient/family education on admission
  • Develop tools and a process to make it happen
  • Address complaints and concerns

Let us work with your team to outline the clinical quality, operations and sales and marketing approaches that will help you raise the bar for providing high-quality hospice care that sets you apart from the competition.  Visit or call us at 844.215.8823 today to learn more.


Hospice Item Set (HIS) 

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