The HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) survey is the first national, standardized, publicly reported survey of patients’ perspectives of hospital care. HCAHPS (pronounced “H-caps”), also known as the CAHPS Hospital Survey, is a survey instrument and data collection methodology for measuring patients’ perceptions of their hospital experience. While many hospitals have collected information on patient satisfaction for their own internal use, until HCAHPS there was no national standard for collecting and publicly reporting information about patient experience of care that allowed valid comparisons to be made across hospitals locally, regionally and nationally.
Three broad goals have shaped HCAHPS. First, the survey is designed to produce data about patients’ perspectives of care that allow objective and meaningful comparisons of hospitals on topics that are important to consumers. Second, public reporting of the survey results creates new incentives for hospitals to improve quality of care. Third, public reporting serves to enhance accountability in health care by increasing transparency of the quality of hospital care provided in return for the public investment. With these goals in mind, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the HCAHPS Project Team have taken substantial steps to assure that the survey is credible, useful, and practical.