The Foreign Language/TTY study conducted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) each year is upon us. With these measures having one additional Star Rating cycle with a 4x-weight, it is imperative that plans be prepared to execute appropriately to meet their measure goals. The study occurs each year beginning in February and typically ends in June. The Accuracy & Accessibility Study measures Part C and Part D prospective beneficiary call center telephone lines to determine (1) the availability of interpreters for individuals, (2) teletypewriter (TTY) functionality, and (3) the accuracy of plan information provided by customer service representatives in all languages. While in the preparation phase, below are a few items to consider in helping your plan reach its goals in these highly weighted measures.
- Ensure accuracy of prospective sales call center telephone numbers and hours of operation prior to submitting data to the Health Plan Management System (HPMS).
- Update and complete training for all staff who will be fielding the prospective sales call center calls between now and the official study kickoff.
- Create or update the historical questions that have been asked as part of the study in previous years.
- Validate each telephone number submitted for the study and consider conducting test calls for both foreign language and TTY.
- Work with your foreign language vendor to ensure they have capacity for all the languages that are part of the official study.
- Consider a back-up foreign language line to avoid any potential failures due to lengthy wait times.
- Train call center staff to transition to secondary foreign language vendor should the hold time getting a translator exceeds two minutes.
- Ensure 100% of all calls are recorded and readily available for review daily to understand performance throughout the study.
- As study calls begin, have the call center staff document each call via an internal system to be reviewed daily for timing, Part C/D, and pass/fail notation.
- Update originating telephone numbers for calls so staff can be prepared and know when an official call is to be answered.
- Complete technology checks daily with the call center staff to ensure any issues related to bandwidth, speed, and connectivity are addressed.
- Develop remediation plans for call center agents that fail calls and identify root cause to ensure no future issues with study calls.
- Consider adding monthly test calls throughout the measurement year to keep call center staff comfortable with these calls.
By implementing these simple initiatives, plans should be able to pass the prospective sales call center audit easily. The cut points for these measures are very high and it is suggested that 5 Stars be the goal for the measures. This should be messaged to the call center team, along with senior leadership within the plan. Detailed tracking and daily review are needed for success in these measures.
We are here to provide help as needed. Contact me at John.Willis@healthmine.com for further discussion regarding the Foreign Language/TTY study.