9/25/2016

CAHPS® Survey for Accountable Care Organizations
Participating in Medicare Initiatives

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The Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Survey for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) lets accountable care organizations participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (Shared Savings Program ACOs), Pioneer ACO Model and Next Generation ACO Model meet their requirement to measure patient experience of care.

The yearly CAHPS Survey for ACOs collects data through a survey mailing and a follow-up phone call to non-respondents to measure the seven required patient experience-of-care summary survey measures included in the Medicare Shared Savings Program, the Pioneer ACO Model and Next Generation ACO Model. CAHPS ask patients about the interpersonal aspects of health care—aspects for which patients may be the best, if not the only source of information, and areas that patients have identified as being important to them.

ACOs are groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers, who come together voluntarily to give coordinated high quality care to their Medicare patients.

For vendors

  • Vendor Registration for the 2016 CAHPS for ACOs Survey has closed. The next application period to become a CAHPS for ACOs Survey vendor will be in Spring 2017. For more information, please contact the CAHPS for ACOs Survey Technical Assistance Email at acocahps@HCQIS.org
  • The final list of approved vendors has been posted.

For ACOs

  • Have questions about your ACO’s responsibility for survey administration? Visit our Shared Savings ProgramPioneer ACO Model and Next Generation ACO Model pages.
  • All ACOs must select a CMS approved CAHPS for ACOs Survey vendor. ACOs must complete the 2016 CAHPS for ACOs Survey vendor authorization process, which is currently scheduled to occur from July 25, 2016 to September 20, 2016. The survey vendor authorization process must be completed no later than September 20, 2016. Each ACO participating in the CAHPS for ACOs Survey will receive information about how to access the electronic vendor registration in July 2016. ACOs must select a vendor from the final list of 2016 CMS approved survey vendors.

More information


About the Survey


The CAHPS Survey for ACOs participating in Medicare Initiatives will be carried out yearly. The first surveys were collected in 2013 for the 2012 reporting period.

The survey administration allows 3 types of ACOs to meet their requirement to measure patient experience of care:

  • Next Generation ACO Model. CMS launched this new ACO model in 2016, partnering with ACOs that are experienced in coordinating care for populations of patients and whose provider groups are ready to assume higher levels of financial risk and reward. This is in accordance with the Administration’s goal of tying 30 percent of traditional, or fee-for-service, Medicare payments to alternative payment models, such as ACOs, by the end of 2016 -- and 50 percent by the end of 2018. Next Generation ACOs are selected through an open and competitive process and 2017 application materials and information are available now.
  • Pioneer ACO Model. This Innovation Center initiative aims to improve quality of care and health outcomes for patients while lowering costs by supporting vanguard organizations in the transformation of their business and care delivery model from one reliant on fee-for-service volume to one focused on optimizing outcomes of care. The Pioneer ACO Model is testing alternative payment models that
    1. include escalating levels of financial accountability through successive performance periods;
    2. provide a transition from fee-for-service to population-based payment by the third performance period, and
    3. generate Medicare savings. This program is no longer open for new applicants.
  • Shared Savings Program. This national program aims to help health care providers coordinate care to improve overall quality of care for Medicare Fee-for-Service beneficiaries. This program accepts applications each year from organizations to become a Shared Savings Program ACO.

The survey has 12 patient experience of care summary survey measures. We finalized summary survey measures 1-7 in the Shared Savings Program final rule. The questions in summary survey measure 8 are questions about courteous, respectful office staff; these questions are in the CG-CAHPS core set and must be included in all CG-CAHPS surveys. The responses to these questions will not be part of the Shared Savings Program payment structure. Summary survey measures 9 through 12 include additional questions developed based on qualitative research with beneficiaries and input from clinical and quality of care experts; feedback on these domains will be provided to the ACOs for informational purposes; they also will not be used for payment purposes.

  1. Getting Timely Care
  2. Provider Communication
  3. Rating of Provider
  4. Access to Specialists
  5. Health Promotion and Education
  6. Shared Decision-making
  7. Health Status/Functional Status
  8. Courteous/Helpful Office Staff
  9. Care Coordination
  10. Between Visit Communication
  11. Education About Medication Adherence
  12. Stewardship of Patient Resources

You can find complete information on our Shared Savings Program Quality Measures and Performance Standards page.

CMS has provided two versions of the CAHPS for ACOs Survey to assess patient experience for ACOs in reporting period 2016: ACO-9 and ACO-12.

  • The ACO-9 survey captures the core CG-CAHPS Survey plus the Summary Survey Measures that are part of the ACO quality standard and were finalized in the Shared Savings Program final rule. Table 1 lists the measures and corresponding questions included in the ACO-9 survey.
  • ACO-12 is the survey that was used to measure reporting periods 2012, 2013 and was an optional survey version for 2014 and 2015. Table 2 lists the measures and corresponding questions included in the ACO-12 survey.

ACOs contracting with an approved vendor for reporting period 2016 data collection have the option of using either the ACO-9 or ACO-12 survey. The CAHPS for ACOs Data Warehouse will accept data for both versions of the survey.

The two survey versions can be found on the Survey Instruments page.

The survey is administered through a Mixed-Mode data collection protocol:

  • CMS pre-notification letter
  • Two survey mailings
  • Up to six follow-up phone call(s) to non-respondents


Survey Vendor Participation Process For New Vendors


Step 1 — Vendor submits Vendor Participation form

  • Review the minimum business requirements for survey vendors and confirm your organization meets these requirements.
  • When the vendor application period is open, complete the participation application. Include, in detail, all subcontractor relationships. Fully document how you’ll fulfill the minimum survey vendor business requirements. Submit your application to the CAHPS for ACOs Survey Project Team during the registration period. Survey vendor participation for the 2016 survey administration period was open from April 4, 2016 to April 21, 2016.

Step 2 — Vendor successfully completes training

  • Approved applicants (vendors’ and subcontractors’ key staff) must participate in a live, webinar-based training.  This training covers the procedures, requirements and timeline that vendors need to follow for survey administration and data reporting.

Vendors whose applications are approved, successfully participate in training and pass a quiz at the end of the training session can become approved vendors. The final list of approved CAHPS for ACOs Survey vendors is now available on the Approved Vendor List page.

Approved vendors must follow the procedures in the CAHPS Survey for ACOs Quality Assurance Guidelines to maintain their status as a CMS-approved vendor.


Citing Materials


Please use the following citation when referencing materials on this website:

[acocahps.cms.gov] Centers For Medicare & Medicaid Services, Baltimore, MD. Month, Date, Year the page was accessed. acocahps.cms.gov

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