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Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems (CAHPS)

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) develop, implement and administer several different patient experience surveys.  These surveys ask patients (or in some cases their families) about their experiences with, and ratings of, their health care providers and plans, including hospitals, home health care agencies, doctors, and health and drug plans, among others.  The surveys focus on matters that patients themselves say are important to them and for which patients are the best and/or only source of information.  CMS publicly reports the results of its patient experience surveys, and some surveys affect payments to Medicare providers.

Experience is not the same as Satisfaction
Patient experience surveys sometimes are mistaken for customer satisfaction surveys.  Patient experience surveys focus on how patients experienced or perceived key aspects of their care, not how satisfied they were with their care.  Patient experience surveys focus on asking patients whether or how often they experienced critical aspects of health care, including communication with their doctors, understanding their medication instructions, and the coordination of their healthcare needs.  They do not focus on amenities.  To learn more about patient experience surveys click here.

CAHPS®  Surveys
Many of the CMS patient experience surveys are in the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) family of surveys.  Others are developed following CAHPS principles and used by CMS but are not CAHPS surveys.  All surveys officially designated as CAHPS surveys have been approved by the CAHPS Consortium, which is overseen by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).  To learn more about CAHPS surveys click here.

CAHPS surveys follow scientific principles in survey design and development.  The surveys are designed to reliably assess the experiences of a large sample of patients.  They use standardized questions and data collection protocols to ensure that information can be compared across healthcare settings.  CAHPS surveys are developed with broad stakeholder input, including a public solicitation of measures and a technical expert panel, and the opportunity for anyone to comment on the survey through multiple public comments period through the Federal Register.  Finally, many CAHPS measures are statistically adjusted to correct for differences in the mix of patients across providers and the use of different survey modes.

CAHPS surveys are an integral part of CMS’ efforts to improve healthcare in the U.S.  Some CAHPS surveys are used in Value-Based Purchasing (Pay for Performance) initiatives.  These initiatives represent a change in the way CMS pays for services.  Instead of only paying for the number of services provided, CMS also pays for providing high quality services.  The quality of services is measured clinically, administratively, and through the use of patient experience of care surveys.

CMS Patient Experience Surveys include:

CMS CAHPS® Surveys  
Hospital CAHPS
Home Health CAHPS
Fee-for-Service CAHPS
Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan CAHPS
In-Center Hemodialysis CAHPS
Nationwide Adult Medicaid CAHPS
• CAHPS® Survey for Accountable Care Organizations Participating in Medicare Initiatives
• Enhanced CG-CAHPS for PQRS

Patient Experience Surveys under Development
Outpatient/Ambulatory Surgery Center survey
Emergency Department
Hospice
• Marketplace Qualified Health Plan

Other CMS Patient Surveys
Health Outcomes Survey (HOS)
Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Disenrollment Reasons Survey