Monday, January 4, 2010

Phone vs. Mailer for HHCAHPS

Decisions... Decisions. 
With 34 different vendors to choose from, one of the top questions to make your job easier in selecting a vendor is, "Do I want my patients called, mailed, or both.... or does it just flat out not matter to me?"
Some agencies like the personal touch of the phone call. Some agencies prefer the cheaper option of mailing. And some really don't care, just get it off their plate. We have run into all types of responses in speaking with administrators all over the country.
This post is intended to discuss the different options you have, and give a fair, balanced look at each one--in order to help you in your decision.

Disclaimer: Pinnacle Quality Insight is a phone-only vendor--but I'll still do my absolute DARNDEST to not show that bias.

1. Mailer Only: The mailer is the most popular option offered by the vendors. I'm not sure on exact numbers, but it seems like about 4 out of 5 vendors are mail-only option--if not higher. There are some polarizing pros and cons about mailers. 
  •  Pros: Overall less expensive, easier for those with hearing difficulties to give feedback 
  • Cons: Impersonal, a longer delay in receiving results, more difficult for those with vision difficulties or joint pain
2. Phone Only: The phone-only approach is offered by a handful of vendors. If you want your patients called, this automatically makes the decision easier. 
  • Pros: More personable, shows a more proactive approach to seeking feedback, gives patients with arthritis or vision difficulty an opportunity to voice their feedback, much easier for qualitative feedback, less likely to procrastinate the survey when they answer  the phone.
  • Cons: Could be more expensive, more difficult for those with hearing loss.
3. Mixed Mode: Very few companies offer the mixed mode approach, which is where a patient is mailed, then called if the mailer isn't returned.
  • Pros: Could be higher response rate, able to contact people with vision difficulties who weren't able to fill out mailer, able to contact patients with hearing difficulties where a mailer would be a better fit. 
  • Cons: So far, we've seen this as the most costly of the three options. The mailer can still seem impersonal, and the follow-up phone calls can come across like you are nagging them because they didn't do their assignment.
HHCAHPS can be used by Home Health Agencies as a valuable tool to grow their business. The key question agency owners and administrators need to consider, is how do they want to use it? If the desire is to have HHCAHPS send a strong service image about the agency and increase patient loyalty, then a phone interview would be the better option. If the desire is to just have the survey results  to review and make changes, then either option would work.

For help with HHCAHPS, or to speak with an HHCAHPS expert, email or call 801-293-0700. 

--Craig Christiansen

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