Measurement of the Patient Experience: Clarifying Facts, Myths, and Approaches
The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey is a 32-item tool administered after discharge to a random sample of adult inpatients, creating standardized, publicly reported metrics that allow fair comparisons of patient experience in hospitals across the nation.
The 11 HCAHPS measures derived from the survey reported on the Hospital Compare website assess how well nurses and physicians communicate with patients, how responsive hospital staff are to patients’ needs, how well hospital staff help patients manage pain, how well the staff communicates with patients about new medicines, whether key information is provided at discharge, how smoothly the transition to the posthospital setting is made, how clean and quiet are the patients’ rooms, what is the hospital’s overall rating, and whether the patient would recommend the hospital.
HCAHPS resides in the public domain and accommodates customized supplemental items that are not reviewed or endorsed by the institution which validates, analyzes, and publicly reports its results (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, CMS). The author emphasizes that HCAHPS has been designed to measure hospital-level performance and that is not suitable for evaluating or incentivizing individuals or groups within a hospital.