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The Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Study (CAHPS®) was initiated by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in 1995 to establish survey and reporting products that provide consumers information on health plan and provider performance as judged by other consumers who used the health plan. It was learned during the first CAHPS development work that various stakeholders have very different perspectives and uses for CAHPS. AHRQ initiated a second CAHPS project (CAHPS® II) in 2002, working with a consortium of RAND Corporation, American Institutes for Research, the Harvard Medical School, and Westat. A goal of the CAHPS II is to address concerns expressed by health plans and health care providers that CAHPS does not provide them the information they need to improve performance in areas of importance to consumers.

RAND conducted interviews with health plans to gather information on their quality improvement activities and their perspectives about how CAHPS fits into those activities. This information from the field is helping us design a more useful CAHPS strategy and tools for quality improvement. These interviews were a component of a broader set of market research interviews conducted by the CAHPS consortium during 2003. Therefore, findings from these health plan interviews will be integrated with those from interviews with other CAHPS stakeholders.

This report presents findings from these interviews and is intended primarily for the CAHPS consortium, survey sponsors, health plans, and other stakeholders. Others also may find the information useful as they design their own consumer surveys.

This research was prepared for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and performed within RAND Health.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation working paper series. RAND working papers are intended to share researchers' latest findings and to solicit informal peer review. They have been approved for circulation by RAND but may not have been formally edited or peer reviewed.

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The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.