This blog was written by our guest blogger Paul Dybas, fomer CAHPS® Business Development Associate for RMS Healthcare, a division of Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS). RMS is an ICH CAHPS® survey vendor based out of Syracuse, NY.

There are many research and survey companies that are capable of conducting the ICH CAHPS® Patient Experience of Care Survey. Out of these, only a handful of vendors are truly qualified to conduct the survey and can guarantee adherence to CMS regulations and also provide quality service and reporting. Below are five qualities that will indicate whether a vendor is proficient in the administration of the ICH CAHPS® survey:

1) NRAA Preferred: One of the most important criteria to consider when selecting a vendor for the ICH CAHPS® survey is whether or not the vendor is preferred by The National Renal Administrators Association NRAA for the administration of the ICH CAHPS® survey. Each NRAA preferred vendor has submitted a proposal outlining its capabilities and has been selected from a pool of ICH CAHPS® vendors. These select vendors have been verified to display excellence in facility capabilities, administration process, full HIPAA compliance, adherence to CMS protocol and quality of survey data. Another benefit is if the vendor is approved by CMS for the administration of CAHPS® surveys, which means the vendor has significant experience conducting HCAHPS®and HH-CAHPS® surveys and adheres to CMS standards for CAHPS® survey administration. Ask your vendor if it has recognition from the NRAA or from CMS for CAHPS® surveys.

2) On-Site Call Center: Beware of vendors that outsource their survey calling. They do not have control over the quality of the calls and cannot guarantee that CMS guidelines are being followed. An on-site call center means that the surveyors are being monitored by the vendor’s management team and the calls are constantly checked for quality. By maintaining an on-site call center, the vendor can also maintain a call center staff that is trained specifically in CAHPS® administration, HIPPA standards and CMS protocol. An outsourced center may only train employees to make general survey calls.

 3) Close relationship: There is a significant amount of interaction between the dialysis facility and the ICH CAHPS® vendor at the onset of the engagement to set up the process. Though the ICH CAHPS® tool and administration is the same for every facility, the vendor can set up the process in a way that works best and is most convenient for each facility. In addition, a vendor can customize the reporting to make sure that the presentation of the data is clear and most useful to the facility in improving the patient experience. Be sure that your ICH CAHPS® vendor can guarantee a close relationship and reasonable availability to address questions and concerns throughout the administration.

4) High response rates: What was the rate of completion for your facility on the 2012 ICH CAHPS® survey? CMS wanted facilities to aim for a 40 percent response rate on the survey. Ask your vendor what the average response rate is for all of its facilities. If it is lower than 40 percent, you may want to consider a vendor that has experienced an average response rate greater than 40 percent.

5) Continued Consultation: A survey vendor may be able to conduct the ICH CAHPS® survey, follow all protocol for administration and obtain great data, but then what are the next steps? It is good to make sure that your ICH CAHPS® survey vendor employs staff members who are well-versed in the healthcare industry and current on trends. Vendors with these staff members will be able to consult with your facility after the survey is completed to talk about how to improve the patient experience and ICH CAHPS® scores on the next survey.

choosing your ich cahps survey vendor

Choosing your ICH CAHPS® survey vendor can often confusing. Let RMS help!

RMS Healthcare is a full service healthcare research firm that meets all of the above criteria. RMS has been conducting CAHPS® surveys since 2006 with the inception of the HCHAPS® for hospitals and conducted the ICH CAHPS® survey for facilities across the country in 2012. For more information on the ICH CAHPS® survey or to sign up for 2013, contact Sandy Baker, CAHPS® Director of Business Development at 1-866-567-5422 or email at