Survey of patients' experiences (HCAHPS)
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 windowExit Disclaimer - Opens in a new window is 32 questions in length—21 substantive items that encompass critical aspects of the hospital experience, 4 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 7 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)
- Care transition (questions 23, 24, 25)
- Cleanliness of hospital environment (question 8)
- Quietness of hospital environment (question 9)
- Hospital rating (question 21)
- Willingness to recommend hospital (question 22)
Hospital-level results are publicly reported on the Hospital Compare website 4 times a year. HCAHPS results are based on 4 quarters of data on a rolling basis.
Which patients are included
The HCAHPS survey is administered to a random sample of adult patients across medical conditions between 48 hours and 6 weeks after discharge; the survey isn't 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.
- Survey data for VA hospitals comes from the VA Survey of Healthcare Experiences of Patients (SHEP) inpatient survey. The SHEP survey uses the same questions as the HCAHPS Survey but is collected and analyzed independently. Patient survey results for VA hospitals do not represent official HCAHPS results and are not included in state and national averages.
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.
SHEP survey results apply the same patient-mix adjustments as used in HCAHPS reporting (described above).
The following resources provide more information related to the HCAHPS survey:
- The official HCAHPS Survey website- Opens in a new windowExit Disclaimer - Opens in a new window 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 windowExit Disclaimer - Opens in a new window contain 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 like 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 email@example.comExit Disclaimer - Opens in a new window 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.
† Note: CMS is reviewing the pain management questions on the HCAHPS Survey for possible revision.