The Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) Study is an innovative effort to develop tools for surveying people about their health care experiences and reporting results to help consumers make better health-related decisions. RAND has been part of the consortium leading CAHPS® since the project launched in 1995. CAHPS® is funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CAHPS® is now the undisputed leader in measuring patient experience.

Initially CAHPS® survey instruments were designed to assess health plan performance from the consumer perspective in multiple health care settings (commercial, Medicaid, Medicare); reports were intended to give consumers information in a user-friendly format. Subsequently CAHPS® broadened its scope to include surveys and reporting recommendations for assessing individual physicians, physician groups, and hospitals. CAHPS® developed targeted item sets for persons with mobility impairments, home health, and prescription drug plans. CAHPS® now comprises a family of surveys focused on ambulatory care (e.g., health plans, home health, surgical care, dental plans) and facilities (e.g. hospital, in-center hemodialysis, and nursing homes).

RAND has also established itself as a trusted technical advisor to CMS—for example, providing support for implementing the hospital and hospice surveys. A recent effort provided survey instruments, procedures, and analyses for use with the Medicare Shared Savings Program, the Physician Quality Reporting Program, and other CMS programs. RAND is currently helping CMS implement the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan surveys, CAHPS for Accountable Care Organizations, and the CAHPS Hospice Survey. RAND analyses are also helping CMS understand and address racial/ethnic differences in care.

CAHPS® tools are widely used—for example, by the National Committee for Quality Assurance to accredit health plans and recognize medical homes; by purchasers to inform pay-for-performance; and by a range of public and private sector providers to assess quality of care.

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