The CAHPS Program

The Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) program is a multi-year initiative of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to support and promote the assessment of consumers' experiences with health care. The goals of the CAHPS program are twofold:

  • Develop standardized patient questionnaires that can be used to compare results across sponsors and over time.
  • Generate tools and resources that sponsors can use to produce understandable and usable comparative information for both consumers and health care providers.

Brief History

AHRQ first launched the CAHPS program in October 1995 in response to concerns about the lack of good information about the quality of health plans from the enrollees' perspective. At that time, numerous public and private organizations collected information on enrollee and patient satisfaction, but the surveys varied from sponsor to sponsor and often changed from year to year.

Over time, the program has expanded beyond its original focus on health plans to address a range of health care services and meet the various needs of health care consumers, purchasers, health plans, providers, and policymakers. The program is currently in its fourth stage, often referred to as CAHPS IV.

The CAHPS Consortium

Since 1995, AHRQ has been awarding 5-year grants to private research organizations to support the CAHPS program. Collectively, the Agency and these research organizations are known as the CAHPS Consortium. The Consortium is responsible for conceiving, developing, testing, and refining CAHPS surveys and conducting research on the various uses of survey data. Review summaries of recent and ongoing research by members of the CAHPS Consortium.

AHRQ's CAHPS Consortium also determines whether patient experience surveys submitted to AHRQ by other survey developers meet the criteria for using the trademarked CAHPS name. To learn about the criteria and the survey submission process, please request a copy of "Getting the CAHPS® Trademark: A Guide for Survey Developers" (revised June 2017) from the CAHPS User Network at or 1-800-492-9261.

Grantees in CAHPS IV (2012-2017) and CAHPS III (2007-2012)

  • Yale School of Public Health, Connecticut (previously referred to as the Harvard team)
  • RAND, California

Grantees in CAHPS II (2002-2007)

  • Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts
  • RAND, California
  • American Institutes for Research (AIR), Washington, DC

Grantees in CAHPS I (1996 to 2001)

  • Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts
  • RAND, California
  • Research Triangle Institute (RTI), North Carolina

Westat provides support to the CAHPS Consortium, assists users of CAHPS products through the CAHPS User Network, and manages the CAHPS Database.

Collaboration With Other Federal Agencies

Federal agencies that have played a role in the CAHPS program include the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), and the National Cancer Institute. These agencies are all part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Page last reviewed July 2017
Page originally created January 2012
Internet Citation: The CAHPS Program. Content last reviewed July 2017. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.