Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) is an AHRQ program that began in 1995. Its purpose is to boost our scientific understanding of patient experience with healthcare as part of a larger effort to advance the delivery of safe, patient-centered care. The acronym "CAHPS" is a registered trademark of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
Reasons To Choose a CAHPS Survey (1:05)
What Is Patient Experience?
Patient experience encompasses the range of interactions that patients have with the healthcare system, including their care from health plans, and from doctors, nurses, and staff in hospitals, physician practices, and other healthcare facilities. The terms patient satisfaction and patient experience are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing.
What Does the CAHPS Program Do?
Under the CAHPS program, AHRQ funds, oversees, and works closely with a consortium of research organizations to conduct research on patient experience and develop surveys that ask consumers and patients to report on and evaluate their experiences with health plans, providers, and healthcare facilities. The CAHPS program also investigates and shares strategies for improving the reliability and validity of survey results, reporting survey results to interested audiences, and using the results to improve patients' experiences with care.
The CAHPS Consortium is responsible for conceiving, developing, testing, and refining CAHPS surveys; investigating ways to facilitate the administration of patient experience surveys; and conducting research on the various uses of survey data.
AHRQ's CAHPS User Network is responsible for making the survey products available and providing free technical assistance and education. The User Network also manages the CAHPS Databases, which are repositories for aggregated data from select CAHPS surveys.
Read AHRQ's program brief: CAHPS: Assessing Health Care Quality From the Patient's Perspective (PDF, 728 KB)
What are CAHPS Surveys?
CAHPS surveys enable organizations to systematically ask patients about their experiences with healthcare in various outpatient and inpatient settings and generate information that can be compared across departments and facilities, over time, and across entities. The surveys cover topics that are important to consumers and focus on aspects of quality that consumers are best qualified to assess, such as the communication skills of providers and ease of access to healthcare services.
Open this graphic for a quick overview of CAHPS surveys: Understanding CAHPS Surveys (PDF, 117 KB)
All CAHPS surveys and related documentation are free to anyone who wants to use these surveys to assess patients' experiences with care.
Users of CAHPS survey results include patients and consumers, healthcare professionals, public and private purchasers of healthcare, healthcare accreditation organizations, health plans, and regional improvement collaboratives. These individuals and organizations use the survey results to evaluate and compare healthcare providers and to improve patient experience with healthcare services.
Learn more: Why Use a CAHPS Survey To Assess Patient Experience? — An interview of Caren Ginsberg, director of the CAHPS Division in AHRQ’s Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety.
Additional Information About the CAHPS Program and Surveys
Principles underlying CAHPS surveys—A set of design principles govern and guide the development of CAHPS surveys and related tools.
Using the CAHPS name—Guidelines for using the trademarked CAHPS name when referring to the program and its many products support appropriate and consistent use of the CAHPS trademark.
FAQs—Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) offers answers to dozens of questions about the CAHPS program and its surveys.
Bibliography—The searchable CAHPS bibliography lists numerous articles about the development of CAHPS surveys and their use as a tool for assessing patients' experiences with care.
Glossary—The CAHPS glossary explains terminology that is frequently used in documentation about CAHPS surveys.
Celebrating 25 Years of CAHPS—For 25 years, AHRQ has developed evidence-based surveys to support healthcare professionals in assessing and improving patients’ experiences with the healthcare system. Learn more by accessing the CAHPS timeline.
Contact information—Contact CAHPS with questions or comments about the CAHPS surveys or the CAHPS Database.