Inside the program: What is HCAHPS?

HCPro's Weekly Update on the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program®*, April 5, 2010

At its most basic, HCAHPS is a 27-question survey of hospital patients. Hospitals have been surveying patients for decades, but HCAHPS is unique. Unlike most surveys, which are developed either by individual hospitals for their own use or by survey vendors for use by their hospital clients, the HCAHPS survey was developed by the federal government, specifically the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) asked AHRQ to develop the survey as part of CMS’s commitment to providing consumers, purchasers, and providers with reliable comparative information about healthcare quality.

The HCAHPS survey and the protocols for administering the survey are standardized and any hospital or survey vendor can use the HCAHPS questions at no charge. As a result, HCAHPS is the only survey that enables hospitals using different survey vendors to compare their performance to nearly all acute care hospitals nationwide, instead of comparing their performance only to the other hospitals using the same survey vendor. Although hospitals are not required to use the HCAHPS survey, they have strong financial incentives to do so, since their CMS payments will be reduced if they do not use the HCAHPS survey and report their results to the public. CMS has proposed that in the future, hospitals will have financial incentives tied not only to reporting the data, but also to how well they perform on the HCAHPS survey.

Source: HCAHPS Basics: A Resource Guide for Healthcare Managers

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