Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) surveys ask consumers and patients to report on and evaluate their experiences with health care. These 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 health care services. The acronym "CAHPS" is a registered trademark of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

All CAHPS surveys and related guidance documents 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, health care providers quality monitors and regulators, health plans, community collaboratives, and public and private purchasers of health care. These individuals and organizations use the survey results to evaluate and compare health care providers and to improve the quality of health care services.

Read AHRQ’s program brief: CAHPS: Assessing Health Care Quality From the Patient's Perspective ([ PDF file PDF - 369.59 KB])

What Is Patient Experience?

Patient experience encompasses the range of interactions that patients have with the health care system, including their care from health plans, and from doctors, nurses, and staff in hospitals, physician practices, and other health care facilities. The terms patient satisfaction and patient experience are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing.

The CAHPS Program

The CAHPS program is funded and overseen by AHRQ, which works closely with a consortium of public and private research organizations. AHRQ and its grantees and contractors develop and maintain the CAHPS surveys; they do not administer any of the surveys to patients or require use of the surveys.

Principles Underlying CAHPS Surveys

Over the past 15 years, the CAHPS Consortium has established a set of principles to guide the development of CAHPS surveys and related tools.

The CAHPS User Network

AHRQ's CAHPS User Network is responsible for making the survey products available, providing free technical assistance and education, and facilitating networking among users.

The User Network also manages the CAHPS Database, which is a repository for aggregated data from the CAHPS Health Plan Survey and the CAHPS Clinician & Group Survey. Learn more about the CAHPS Database.


Numerous articles discuss the development of the CAHPS surveys and their use as a tool for assessing patients' experiences with care. You can search the bibliography by keyword, topic, author, and year.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page offers answers to questions about the CAHPS program as well as specific survey instruments. You can search the FAQs by topic.

CAHPS Glossary

While the CAHPS program makes a great effort to design surveys that use consumer-friendly language, it inevitably generated a jargon of its own. Check out the glossary for an explanation of any unfamiliar terms.

Using the CAHPS Name

To support appropriate and consistent use of the CAHPS trademark, AHRQ has developed guidelines for using the name when referring to the program and its many products.

Contact CAHPS

Call or write us with questions or comments about the CAHPS surveys or the CAHPS Database.

Page last reviewed October 2016
Page originally created October 2011
Internet Citation: About CAHPS. Content last reviewed October 2016. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/cahps/about-cahps/index.html