Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Hospital Quality

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Jul• 27•10

The HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) is a standardized survey instrument and data collection methodology for measuring patients’ perceptions of their hospital experience.  HCAPHS is the first national standard for collecting and reporting hospitals quality data.

The survey asks discharged patients 27 questions about their recent hospital stay.  The survey is administered to a random sample of adult patients across medical conditions between 48 hours and six weeks following discharge.

Although CMS publicly reports the results of the HCAPHS survey, the sample is not restricted to Medicare beneficiaries.  However, hospitals are allowed to collect their own data which begs the question of whether they manipulate the data.  For instance, they may prefer worse satisfaction scores to have a low baseline or prefer high satisfaction scores to attract more patients.  Although I do not know if this occurs, one could envision a patient conveniently being dropped from the survey if they give the hospital a bad review.

The number of hospitals that publicly report HCAHPS results has increased from 2,521 in March 2008, to 3,711 in March 2009.

Timeline:

  • 2002.  CMS partnered with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), another agency in the federal Department of Health and Human Services, to develop and test the HCAHPS survey.
  • May 2005.  National Qualify Forum endorses HCAHPS
  • December 2005.  Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approves HCAHPS
  • October 2006.  CMS implements HCAHPS survey
  • July 2007.  The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 requires IPPS hospitals to submit HCAPHS data to receive full IPPS annual payment update.  Non-IPPS hospitals, such as Critical Access Hospitals, may voluntarily participate in HCAHPS.
  • March 2008. CMS publicly reports HCAHPS survey results on Hospital Compare.

Source: HCAHPS Fact Sheet, March 2009.

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One Comment

  1. Mark B. says:

    Definitely does seem like there is a conflict of interest there.

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