Survey of patients' experiences
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), along with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), developed the HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) Survey, also known as Hospital CAHPS®, to provide a standardized survey instrument and data collection methodology for measuring patients' perspectives on hospital care. The HCAHPS Survey is administered to a random sample of patients continuously throughout the year. CMS cleans, adjusts and analyzes the data, then publicly reports the results. The HCAHPS survey- Opens in a new windowGlobe icon is 32 questions in length—21 substantive items that encompass critical aspects of the hospital experience, four screening questions to skip patients to appropriate questions, and 7 demographic items that are used for adjusting the mix of patients across hospitals for analytical purposes. Hospital Compare currently reports results for 6 composite topics - 2 individual topics and 2 global topics - as follows:
- Nurse communication (questions 1, 2, 3)
- Doctor communication (questions 5, 6, 7)
- Responsiveness of hospital staff (questions 4, 11)
- Pain management (questions 13, 14)
- Communication about medicines (questions 16, 17)
- Discharge information (questions 19, 20)
- Cleanliness of hospital environment (question 8)
- Quietness of hospital environment (question 9)
- Overall rating of hospital (question 21)
- Willingness to recommend hospital (question 22)
Hospital-level results are publicly reported on the Hospital Compare website four times a year. HCAHPS results are reported for four quarters of data on a rolling basis.
What patients are included
The HCAHPS survey is administered to a random sample of adult patients across medical conditions between 48 hours and six weeks after discharge; the survey is not restricted to Medicare beneficiaries.
Where the information comes from
- All short-term, acute care, non-specialty hospitals are invited to participate in the HCAHPS Survey. Over 4,000 hospitals participate in HCAHPS.
- The goal is for each hospital to get at least 300 completed patient surveys per year. In general, the more patients that respond to the survey, the more the results shown on this website will reflect the experiences of all the patients who used that hospital.
- HCAHPS survey data must be collected by organizations that are trained by the federal government in HCAHPS data collection procedures. Data submitted to the HCAHPS data warehouse is cleaned, adjusted and analyzed by CMS, which calculates hospitals’ HCAHPS scores and publicly reports them on the Hospital Compare website.
Preparing the data for public reporting includes taking certain factors into account to ensure fair comparisons among hospitals. For example, the mix of patients can differ from one hospital to the next, and these differences in the patient mix can affect a hospital’s HCAHPS results. Patient-mix adjustment takes these differences into account so that the survey results reported on this website are what would be expected for each hospital if all hospitals had a similar mix of patients.
The following resources provide more information related to the HCAHPS survey:
- The official HCAHPS survey website- Opens in a new windowGlobe icon provides background information on the HCAHPS Survey and detailed information about the survey instruments, data submission guidelines, data adjustments, quality assurance procedures and additional information on hospital performance.
- The quality assurance guidelines- Opens in a new windowGlobe icon provide details about the development and administration of the HCAHPS Survey, the survey instrument and its official translations, and procedures that must be followed when data is collected and submitted.
- The HCAHPS Survey- Opens in a new window frequently asked questions document, addresses topics such as the purpose of the HCAHPS Survey, content of survey items, HCAHPS development, history, modes of administration, requirements for participation, eligible patients, sampling, data analysis, and adjustment of HCAHPS results for patient-mix and survey mode.
To communicate with CMS staff, please send an email to Hospitalcahps@cms.hhs.gov.
For information and technical assistance, please contact the HCAHPS Project Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-884-4007.
Note: CAHPS® (Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) is a registered trademark of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a U.S. Government agency.