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CAP survey insights will shape advocacy

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May 12, 2014—The College of American Pathologists is conducting its first Practice Characteristics Survey since 2011, aiming to update the CAP’s deep body of information about pathology and laboratory medicine practice that helps drive discussions about payment, regulation, quality reporting, and more.

The survey, fielded on the CAP’s behalf by the Jackson Group consulting firm, was emailed April 28 to about 10,000 pathologists from the address noreply@qemailserver.com. College officials hope that 20 to 25 percent of CAP members complete the survey, compared with the 15 percent response rate for the 2011 survey, whose results were reported in 2012 (members-only link).

The survey was beta-tested by a group of pathologists to ensure that it could be completed in about 20 minutes, says David J. Gross, PhD. He directs the CAP’s Policy Roundtable, a Council on Government and Professional Affairs subcommittee that developed the survey.

“We want to make it as easy as possible” to complete the survey, Gross tells CAP TODAY. So, the Policy Roundtable decided to split the survey into two parts. This first survey focuses on questions that every pathologist will be able to answer, detailing salary information, type of practice setting, practice size, demographics information, and how they spend their working hours. A second survey will be sent, later this year, to practice managers and practice leaders to get detailed information on payer relationships, practice size and hiring, consolidation, and other issues that pathologists may not know.

A key goal of this Practice Characteristics Survey is to better understand practice trends that may have changed since 2011, such as in practice settings, the kinds of work pathologists are doing, and how long they are working.  The survey also seeks to understand how pathologists are adapting to new elements in health care, such as accountable care organizations and the Medicare Physician Quality Reporting System.

“We’re asking some more detailed questions about the services pathologists provide in areas such as population health and how much time they are spending  in supporting their institutions,” Gross says. “We want to find how many pathologists are working in emerging areas such as genomic medicine and informatics.”

This is a point that CAP president Gene N. Herbek, MD, also has stressed, explaining that documentation of quality-reporting activities is especially critical.

“Decision-makers in Washington are receptive to concrete, fact-based information. This survey will yield precise and meaningful data that our advocacy team can use to inform their thinking,” Dr. Herbek wrote. See “Member survey meets our need to know,” CAP TODAY, April 2014, page 9.

Nearly 8 percent of respondents have completed the survey, Gross says. CAP members have a strong incentive to respond sooner than later. Each week through May 19, there is a weekly prize drawing among survey participants. Winners get their pick of one free global registration to CAP ’14 valued at $950, a $500 credit for CAP Press Publications, or an iPad mini with Retina display that retails for $399 and up at the Apple Store.

CAP members who have not received the survey should check with their information technology departments to ensure that email from the @qemailserver.com domain is not blocked. They also can email CAP-PCsurvey@cap.org with any questions about the survey. The goal is for members to complete the surveys by the end of May, Gross says. The results will be reported by fall.

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