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Deadline for Authorizing a Survey Vendor for the 2021 ICH CAHPS Spring Survey is February 28, 2021
folder_openFacility Participation Requirementscalendar_todayPosted February 26, 2021

This is a reminder that all in-center hemodialysis (ICH) facilities that are administering the ICH CAHPS Survey for the first time or are switching to a different ICH CAHPS Survey vendor to administer the 2021 ICH CAHPS Spring Survey must update their vendor authorization on the ICH CAHPS website by 5:00 PM Eastern Time on Sunday, February 28, 2021.

Please note that ICH facilities must update the online vendor authorization only if the following applies:

  • Your facility is participating in the ICH CAHPS Survey for the first time during the 2021 Spring Survey; OR
  • Your facility is switching to a different survey vendor to administer the 2021 ICH CAHPS Spring Survey; OR
  • Your facility entered the 2020 Fall Survey as the last survey period for which the vendor would administer the survey when you originally submitted the authorization form.

If your organization will continue to use the same ICH CAHPS Survey vendor that was used to administer the 2020 ICH CAHPS Fall Survey, you do not need to update the online vendor authorization form.

If any of the above statements apply to your facility, you must update the online vendor authorization form for the 2021 ICH CAHPS Spring Survey on the ICH CAHPS website by the February 28, 2021 deadline. ICH facilities that served 30 or more survey-eligible patients in calendar year 2020 must administer both the 2021 ICH CAHPS Spring and Fall Surveys to be compliant with the CMS quality reporting requirements. If the online vendor authorization form is not updated by the deadline, a sample will not be provided to a survey vendor, which means the 2021 Spring Survey cannot be administered.

The steps for authorizing a vendor on the ICH CAHPS website are as follows:

  • Log in to the ICH CAHPS website here.
  • From your personal dashboard, click “Authorize a Vendor.” The system will then take you to the Authorize a Vendor page.
  • From the “Select Action” drop-down list on the Authorize a Vendor page:
    • If authorizing a vendor for the first time on the website: Select the “Select a vendor for the first time” option.
    • If changing/switching to a different vendor: Select the “Switch to a different vendor” option.
  • Select the name of your survey vendor from the vendor drop-down list.
  • Select the Beginning Survey Period for your new vendor. In this instance, you would select "2021 Spring Survey."
  • Do not enter an end date for your survey vendor unless you know that you will not be using this vendor for the 2021 Fall Survey.
  • Select the CCN(s) of the ICH facility (or facilities) to which the authorization applies.
  • Click the “Submit” button.

Please note: No changes to vendor authorizations will be accepted for the 2021 Spring Survey after 5:00 PM Eastern Time on February 28, 2021.

Please contact the ICH CAHPS Coordination Team at 1–866–245–8083 or via email at ichcahps@rti.org if you have any questions or need more information about the 2021 ICH CAHPS Surveys.

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Reminder: The 2021 ICH CAHPS Survey Facility Non-Participation Form Deadline is February 28, 2021
folder_openFacility Participation Requirementscalendar_todayPosted February 22, 2021

Please note that the deadline for submitting the 2021 Facility Non-Participation Form for the ICH CAHPS Survey is 5:00 PM Eastern on February 28, 2021. To access this form, login to the website using your user credentials and choose “Facility Non-Participation Form” under the For Facilities menu.

As noted in an email message sent to in-center hemodialysis (ICH) facilities on January 5, 2021 and posted under the Quick Links menu on the ICH CAHPS website’s home page, all ICH facilities must determine whether they will be required to administer the ICH CAHPS Surveys in calendar year 2021 by counting the number of survey-eligible patients they served in 2020.

ICH facilities that determine that they are not required to administer the 2021 ICH CAHPS Surveys and those that choose not to administer the surveys must complete and submit the 2021 Facility Non-Participation Form on the website.

ICH facilities should please note the following:

  • The Facility Non-Participation Form is an annual form that is valid only for the year in which it was submitted. ICH facilities that submitted the Facility Non-Participation Form in 2020 must submit the 2021 Facility Non-Participation Form if they do not plan to administer the 2021 ICH CAHPS Spring and Fall Surveys.
  • Submission of the Facility Non-Participation Form only alerts the ICH CAHPS Coordination Team that the facility does not wish for a sample file to be provided to their authorized vendor for the current calendar year; it does not affect compliance, which is determined on an annual basis by the ESRD Quality Incentive Program (QIP) team.
  • Once the Facility Non-Participation Form is submitted, any existing vendor authorization for the submitted CCN(s) is removed from the ICH CAHPS website. This means that if at any point in the future the submitted CCN(s) wishes to participate in the ICH CAHPS Surveys, the designated ICH CAHPS Facility Survey Administrator will need to authorize a survey vendor for the CCN(s).
  • Facilities certified after December 31, 2020 are not required to complete and submit the online Facility Non-Participation Form, unless they are currently registered with an authorized vendor on the ICH CAHPS website.

Please contact the ICH CAHPS Coordination Team at 1-866-245-8083 or via email at ichcahps@rti.org if you have any questions or need more information about the Facility Non-Participation Form.

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Only One Week before the Deadline to Authorize a Survey Vendor for the 2021 ICH CAHPS Spring Survey
folder_openFacility Participation Requirementscalendar_todayPosted February 22, 2021

This is a reminder that all in-center hemodialysis (ICH) facilities that are administering the ICH CAHPS Survey for the first time or are switching to a different ICH CAHPS Survey vendor to administer the 2021 ICH CAHPS Spring Survey must update their vendor authorization on the ICH CAHPS website by 5:00 PM Eastern Time on February 28, 2021. Please note you must update the online vendor authorization only if the following applies:

  • Your facility is participating in the ICH CAHPS Survey for the first time during the 2021 Spring Survey; OR
  • Your facility is switching to a different survey vendor to administer the 2021 ICH CAHPS Spring Survey; OR
  • Your facility entered the 2020 Fall Survey as the last survey period for which the vendor would administer the survey when you originally submitted the authorization form.

If your organization will continue to use the same ICH CAHPS Survey vendor that was used to administer the 2020 ICH CAHPS Fall Survey, you do not need to update the online vendor authorization form.

If any of the above statements apply to your facility, you must update the online vendor authorization form for the 2021 ICH CAHPS Spring Survey on the ICH CAHPS website by the February 28, 2021 deadline. ICH facilities that served 30 or more survey-eligible patients in calendar year 2020 must administer both the 2021 ICH CAHPS Spring and Fall Surveys to be compliant with the CMS quality reporting requirements. If the online vendor authorization form is not updated by the deadline, a sample will not be provided to a survey vendor, which means the 2021 Spring Survey cannot be administered.

The steps for authorizing a vendor on the ICH CAHPS website are as follows:

  • Log in to the ICH CAHPS website here.
  • From your personal dashboard, click “Authorize a Vendor.” The system will then take you to the Authorize a Vendor page.
  • From the “Select Action” drop-down list on the Authorize a Vendor page:
    • If authorizing a vendor for the first time on the website: Select the “Select a vendor for the first time” option.
    • If changing/switching to a different vendor: Select the “Switch to a different vendor” option.
  • Select the name of your survey vendor from the vendor drop-down list.
  • Select the Beginning Survey Period for your new vendor. In this instance, you would select "2021 Spring Survey."
  • Do not enter an end date for your survey vendor unless you know that you will not be using this vendor for the 2021 Fall Survey.
  • Select the CCN(s) of the ICH facility (or facilities) to which the authorization applies.
  • Click the “Submit” button.

Please note: No changes to vendor authorizations will be accepted for the 2021 Spring Survey after 5:00 PM Eastern Time on February 28, 2021.

Please contact the ICH CAHPS Coordination Team at 1–866–245–8083 or via email at ichcahps@rti.org if you have any questions or need more information about the 2021 ICH CAHPS Surveys.

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Increasing ICH CAHPS Survey Response Rates
folder_openOther Announcementscalendar_todayPosted February 19, 2021

In recent years, we have seen a slight, steady decline in the In-Center Hemodialysis (ICH CAHPS) Survey response rates. Due to the small sample sizes at most participating facilities and the fact that most in-center hemodialysis (ICH) patients receive dialysis for many years, many ICH patients are asked to participate in the survey up to two times each year. End-stage renal disease experts, survey experts, and other stakeholders continue to stress the critical importance of the need for patient engagement in terms of the ICH CAHPS Survey. We are sharing some patient engagement ideas in hopes that the information is useful in keeping ICH patients invested in the survey.

Ideas for ICH Patient Engagement

  • Consider using a poster/flyer or other awareness materials within your facilities, providing a heads-up to patients that their participation in the ICH CAHPS Survey is important.
    • The Coordination Team developed a CMS-approved ICH CAHPS poster/flyer that contains information about the survey; the template (without official CMS logo) can be found on the ICH CAHPS website: https://ichcahps.org/Survey-and-Protocols. Approval for using this exact template is not necessary; however, please contact the Coordination Team at ichcahps@rti.org to obtain the template version that includes the official CMS logo.
    • ICH facilities are also permitted to create their own poster/flyer or other awareness materials, with approval from the Coordination Team. Materials can be submitted for review to ichcahps@rti.org. Please keep in mind that the survey name included on the mail surveys that patients receive is “Medicare In-Center Hemodialysis Survey.”
  • Show patients the ICH CAHPS Survey envelope so they can easily recognize it should they receive one in the mail. The new envelope template that will be used starting with the 2021 Spring Survey can be found in Chapter 5 and 7 in the ICH CAHPS Administration and Specifications Manual: https://ichcahps.org/Survey-and-Protocols. The Coordination Team can also email the envelope template to ICH facilities upon request.
  • Communicate to patients the purpose of the survey, why their responses matter, and how they can access the survey results on the Care Compare website at https://www.medicare.gov/care-compare.
  • Explain to patients that the survey is conducted every spring (April-July) and fall (October-January) and that they may be asked to participate up to two times a year. Make sure that they know that they may be contacted via mail or phone (or both) by an independent vendor.
  • Let patients know that they may receive the ICH CAHPS Survey and that honest feedback is appreciated. Make sure they know that no one from the facility will know who receives the survey, who responds to the survey, or how they answered any of the questions.
  • Discuss publicly reported survey results and facility scores with patients and the facility’s plans, if any, to improve patient care based on survey results.

Things to Keep in Mind when Implementing Patient Engagement

Although patient engagement is critically important, ICH facilities should make sure to keep the following in mind when implementing any patient engagement techniques:

  • Patients receiving ICH treatment are an especially vulnerable population, relying on an ICH facility and its staff for life-sustaining care. Some patients might be reluctant to participate in the ICH CAHPS Survey or provide feedback on the dialysis care they receive for fear of retribution by facility staff. Participation is always voluntary.
  • Patients may be reluctant to provide survey responses that accurately reflect their experience with the care provided by their ICH facility because they might perceive that government agencies are not responsive to patients’ concerns. Facilities should not imply or persuade patients to respond to items in a particular way.
  • If patients ask ICH facility personnel to help them complete the survey, facility staff should instruct them to ask a family member or friend for help. Staff at a dialysis facility are not allowed to help patients complete the survey.
  • If sample patients have any questions about the survey, facility staff should instruct them to call their ICH CAHPS Survey vendor’s toll-free telephone number, which is included in the prenotification and mail survey cover letters. Staff at a dialysis facility should not attempt to answer survey-specific questions asked by the patient.

Please note that in an effort to increase response rates, CMS is working toward the end goal of improving the ICH CAHPS Survey. If any changes are made to the survey, they will be shared with survey vendors and ICH facilities. At this point, we do not have a solid timeframe for any potential changes, as a final decision depends on a number of factors. In the meantime, we hope that the information provided here will help ICH facilities employ useful patient engagement tactics to help increase ICH CAHPS Survey response rates!

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ICH CAHPS Sampling: ESRD Quality Reporting System (EQRS)
folder_openOther Announcementscalendar_todayPosted February 8, 2021

Please note that the term CROWNWeb is slowly being phased out. As of November 9, 2020, the ESRD Quality Reporting System, EQRS, is the CMS data system of record. The EQRS is where ICH facilities update their monthly dialysis information, and is now the system used by the ICH CAHPS Coordination Team to obtain semiannual sampling information. As such, the Coordination Team will begin using the EQRS term in place of CROWNWeb in our correspondence with vendors and facilities.

Please contact the ICH CAHPS Coordination Team at 1-866-245-8083 or via email at ichcahps@rti.org if you have any questions.

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Training Materials for the 2021 ICH CAHPS Survey Vendor Update Webinar Training Sessions are Available
folder_openTraining Informationcalendar_todayPosted February 5, 2021

The training materials that will be used during the ICH CAHPS Survey Vendor Update Webinar Training Session that will be held from 1:30 to 3:30 PM ET on February 10, 2021, are available on the ICH CAHPS website at the following link:

ICH CAHPS Survey Vendor Update Webinar Training Materials

An email message containing instructions for connecting to the training session via webinar and telephone was sent to all registered organizations on Wednesday, February 3, 2021. Please contact the ICH CAHPS Coordination Team at ichcahps@rti.org or call 1-866-245-8083 if anyone registered for your organization did not receive this email message.

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ICH CAHPS Survey Administration and Specifications Manual, Version 9.0
folder_openChanges to Protocols and Guidelinescalendar_todayPosted February 5, 2021

The In-center Hemodialysis CAHPS (ICH CAHPS) Survey Administration and Specifications Manual, Version 9.0 is now available on the ICH CAHPS website in MS Word and PDF formats. The protocols and guidelines described in Version 9.0 of this manual are effective immediately and supersede those described in previous versions of the manual.

Please note: At the end of Chapter 1 is a “What’s New or Different?” section, which contains a list of the chapters in the manual in which the major changes in survey protocols and materials are described.

To conserve paper, the ICH CAHPS Coordination Team will print a limited number of hardcopy versions of this manual. Organizations may request a hardcopy manual by sending an e-mail message to the ICH CAHPS Coordination Team at ichcahps@rti.org.

Updated ICH CAHPS Survey protocols and procedures will be reviewed during the ICH CAHPS Survey Vendor Update Webinar Training session that will take place on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. A training agenda and the presentation slides for those training sessions will also be posted on the ICH CAHPS website by 5:00 PM ET today, February 5, 2021.

Please contact the ICH CAHPS Coordination Team via email at ichcahps@rti.org or call toll-free at 1-866-245-8083 if you have any questions.

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Updated ICH CAHPS Survey Materials for the 2021 Spring Survey
folder_openChanges to Protocols and Guidelinescalendar_todayPosted February 5, 2021

The following ICH CAHPS Survey materials have been updated for the 2021 Spring Survey and have been posted on the ICH CAHPS website:

Materials posted to the “Survey Materials” page here:

  • ICH CAHPS Cover Letters 1 and 2 in all approved languages (10 cover letters)
    • The cover letters have been revised and simplified. Survey vendors are now required to use these revised cover letters, instead of using them as examples to develop their own cover letters.
    • The cover letters posted on the ICH CAHPS website contain placeholders for the CMS logo and signature. Approved survey vendors are provided with the letters via email with the official CMS logo and signature included.
  • Telephone Scripts in both approved languages (2 scripts):
    • INTRO2 in the telephone script has been updated with the following changes in both translations:
      • Replaced the text “protected by the Privacy Act.” with “kept private by law.”
      • Removed the text “and will not affect your health benefits in any way.”
    • This text was removed from the revised ICH CAHPS cover letters, so making this change in the telephone scripts will ensure that sample patients receive the same information, regardless of their data collection mode.
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in both approved languages (2 documents):
    • Minor updates were made to the FAQ to mirror changes made to cover letters 1 and 2 and the telephone script:
      • Replaced the references to “the Privacy Act” with “law.”
      • Removed references to participating in the survey not affecting the care patients receive now or in the future.
      • Added the new Care Compare website address.
  • ICH CAHPS Flyer/Poster Template in both approved languages (2 documents):
    • These templates are now posted on the Survey Materials page.
    • The templates posted on the ICH CAHPS website contain placeholders for the CMS logo. Approved survey vendors are provided with the templates via email with the official CMS logo included.
  • OMB Disclosure notice in all approved languages (5 documents):
    • Very minor edits were made to the header explanatory text for vendors indicating that the OMB disclosure notice is now included on the cover letter and that while it may also be printed on the survey, this is not required.

Materials posted under the “For Vendors” dropdown:

  • Model QAP:
    • The Model QAP has been updated to reflect the new May 31st due date for annual update QAP submissions, and that vendors should now be including in their QAP submission the mail survey, telephone script, and cover letters 1 and 2 for each language they are administering, where applicable.

These updated ICH CAHPS Survey materials will be discussed during the ICH CAHPS Survey Vendor Update Webinar Training session on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. A training agenda and the presentation slides for this training session will be posted on the ICH CAHPS website by 5:00 PM ET on Friday, February 5, 2021.

Please contact the ICH CAHPS Coordination Team via email at ichcahps@rti.org or call toll-free at 1-866-245-8083 if you have any questions.

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Reminder of Upcoming Deadline for Submitting Facility-Specific Questions for the 2021 ICH CAHPS Spring Survey for Approval
folder_openOther Announcementscalendar_todayPosted January 29, 2021

This is a reminder that ICH CAHPS Survey vendors must submit all facility-specific questions that they plan to add to the 2021 ICH CAHPS Spring Survey to the Coordination Team for review and approval. If any of your ICH facility clients are planning to add any new facility-specific questions to the 2021 ICH CAHPS Spring Survey, please send those questions and their proposed placement to the Coordination Team via e-mail at ichcahps@rti.org before 5:00 PM Eastern Time (ET) on February 5, 2021.

Please note that facility-specific questions that were approved by the Coordination Team for use in previous survey periods do not need to be approved again unless the question wording or response options have changed.

The Coordination Team will accept facility-specific questions for review after the February 5, 2021 deadline; however, approval of those questions may not be granted in time for the questions to be included in the 2021 Spring Survey. Survey vendors should work with their client ICH facilities to decide on the use of new facility-specific questions and submit the questions to the Coordination Team as soon as possible to avoid a delay in approval.

Please contact the Coordination Team via e-mail at ichcahps@rti.org or by calling 1-888-245-8083 if you have any questions.

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Reminder: Only One Week before the Data Submission Deadline for the 2020 ICH CAHPS Fall Survey
folder_openData Submissionscalendar_todayPosted January 20, 2021

The deadline for submitting data files from the 2020 ICH CAHPS Fall Survey to the Data Center is at 5:00 PM Eastern Time on Wednesday, January 27, 2021, which is 1 week from today. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will not accept any data files after that date and time.

We strongly encourage vendors who have not submitted an XML file for any of their facility clients to begin submitting as soon as possible. Remember that vendors must submit their data files in time to correct and re-submit any files that do not pass the validation checks.

Please feel free to contact the ICH CAHPS Coordination Team via e-mail at ichcahps@rti.org or call 1-866-245-8083 if you have any questions or need help with data submissions.

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