Use of CAHPS Patient Experience Surveys to Assess the Impact of Health Care Innovations

Published in: Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, v. 40, no. 9, Sep. 2014, p. 418-427

Posted on RAND.org on August 28, 2014

by Robin M. Weinick, Denise D. Quigley, Lauren A. Mayer, Clarissa Sellers

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BACKGROUND: The Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) surveys are the standard for collecting information about patient experience of care in the United States. However, despite their widespread use, including in pay-for-performance and public reporting efforts and various provisions of the Affordable Care Act, knowledge about the use of CAHPS in assessing the impact of quality improvement efforts is limited. A study was conducted to examine the use of patient experience surveys in assessing the impact of innovations implemented in health care settings. METHODS: Innovation profiles identified on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Health Care Innovations Exchange website that included patient experience (including patient satisfaction) as an outcome (N = 201), were analyzed with a variety of qualitative analysis methods. RESULTS: Fewer than half of the innovations used a patient experience measure, most commonly employing global measures such as an overall rating. Most innovations assessed patient experience at a single time point, with only one third using techniques such as pre-post comparisons, time trends, or comparisons to control groups. Ten domains of measures addressed reports of patient experience, all of which could be assessed by existing CAHPS instruments. Similarly, CAHPS measures are available to assess all of the organizational processes that are addressed by innovations in the profiles and for which patients are the best source of information. While 120 of the innovations that use patient experience measures report using surveys to collect these data, only 6 reported using a CAHPS measure. CONCLUSIONS: Although innovations targeting quality improvement are often evaluated using surveys, there is considerable untapped potential for using CAHPS measures or surveys to assess their effectiveness.

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