Examining the Role of Patient Experience Surveys in Measuring Health Care Quality

Published In: Medical Care Research and Review, v. 71, no. 5, suppl. Oct 2014, p. 522-554

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2014

by Rebecca Anhang Price, Marc N. Elliott, Alan M. Zaslavsky, Ron D. Hays, William Lehrman, Lise Rybowski, Susan Edgman-Levitan, Paul Cleary

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Research Question

  1. What is the relationship between patient experience and clinical quality of care?

Patient care experience surveys evaluate the degree to which care is patient-centered. This article reviews the literature on the association between patient experiences and other measures of health care quality. Research indicates that better patient care experiences are associated with higher levels of adherence to recommended prevention and treatment processes, better clinical outcomes, better patient safety within hospitals, and less health care utilization. Patient experience measures that are collected using psychometrically sound instruments, employing recommended sample sizes and adjustment procedures, and implemented according to standard protocols are intrinsically meaningful and are appropriate complements for clinical process and outcome measures in public reporting and pay-for-performance programs.

Key Findings

Better patient-reported care experiences are often associated with other aspects of health care quality, specifically:

  • higher levels of adherence to recommended prevention and treatment processes
  • better clinical outcomes
  • less unnecessary health care utilization

There is no inherent trade-off between strong performance on patient experience indicators and performance on clinical quality measures.

Recommendation

Patient experience measures that are collected using psychometrically sound instruments, employing recommended sample sizes and adjustment procedures, and implemented according to standard protocols should be used as a complement to clinical quality measures to assess overall quality of care.

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