AHRQ Survey Used to Report on Patient Experience in More Than 3,700 Hospitals

January 2011

The Hospital Quality Alliance (HQA), a national public/private collaboration of organizations, uses the "Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems" (HCAHPS) to collect and report patients' experiences with their hospital care. HCAHPS is a standardized survey tool developed through a partnership with AHRQ and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

HCAHPS is a national survey that asks a random sample of recently discharged patients about important aspects of their hospital experience. Ten HCAHPS measures are publicly reported on Hospital Compare (http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov), a consumer tool created by CMS, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and other members of the HQA. Hospital Compare, a cornerstone of the HQA collaborative effort, reports hospital performance in a consistent manner to ensure the availability of credible information about the care delivered in the nation's hospitals.

More than 3,700 hospitals currently report HCAHPS scores on Hospital Compare in order to help consumers make decisions about hospital care. Posting the results also encourages hospitals to take steps to improve their quality of care and improve the patient experience through specific quality improvement activities. The Web site averaged 1.14 million page views per month through December 2009.

Gerry Shea, Director of Government Affairs for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations and Principal of the HQA, says, "The HQA is committed to making meaningful, relevant, and easily understood information about hospital performance accessible to the public. It also informs and encourages efforts to improve quality."

Shea adds, "Patient experience is a key HQA priority, and it is important for public reporting. Early on, our members identified HCAHPS for inclusion on Hospital Compare and worked together to see it implemented."

Elizabeth Goldstein, PhD, Director of the Division of Consumer Assessment and Plan Performance at CMS, says, "We know that there are quality improvement activities occurring at many hospitals as a result of HCAHPS reporting. We looked at initial public reporting from March 2008 through March 2009 and saw improvement in many of the measures over that time period. In general, all of the scores for the HCAHPS measures are going in the right direction."

Hospitals began voluntarily participating in HCAHPS in 2006. Since 2007, acute care hospitals must collect and publicly report HCAHPS to be eligible to receive their full annual payment update from Medicare. More information is available at http://www.hcahpsonline.org.

The HQA represents America's hospitals, consumer representatives, physician and nursing organizations, employers and payers, oversight organizations, and government agencies.

Impact Case Study Identifier: 
AHRQ Product(s): HCAHPS
Topics(s): Quality, Consumer Health
Geographic Location: National
Implementer: The Hospital Quality Alliance
Date: 01/01/2011
Page last reviewed October 2014