About CAHPS

Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) is an AHRQ program that began in 1995. Its purpose is to advance our scientific understanding of patient experience with health care. The acronym "CAHPS" is a registered trademark of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

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 health care 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.

Learn more about the CAHPS program.

Read AHRQ's program brief: CAHPS: Assessing Health Care Quality From the Patient's Perspective (PDF Version, 370 KB)

What Are CAHPS Surveys?

CAHPS 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. 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, health care providers, public and private purchasers of health care, health care accreditation organizations, health plans, and regional improvement collaboratives. These individuals and organizations use the survey results to evaluate and compare health care providers and to improve the quality of health care services.

Learn more about CAHPS surveys and guidance.

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.

Design Principles for CAHPS Surveys

The CAHPS program has established and refined a set of principles to guide the development of CAHPS surveys and related tools. Learn about the principles underlying CAHPS surveys.

Support From 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.

Research Articles About CAHPS

Numerous articles discuss the development of the CAHPS surveys and their use as a tool for assessing patients' experiences with care. You can use the CAHPS bibliography to search for articles 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.

Understanding CAHPS Terminology

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 CAHPS glossary for an explanation of any unfamiliar terms.

Referring to CAHPS

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

Questions or Comments?

You can contact CAHPS with questions or comments about the CAHPS surveys or the CAHPS Database.

Page last reviewed April 2018
Page originally created October 2011
Internet Citation: About CAHPS. Content last reviewed April 2018. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/cahps/about-cahps/index.html