Cahps Survey Questions Cahps Survey

CAHPS Survey Questions: 2024 Guide


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Healthcare often uses patient experience surveys to evaluate the key aspects of patient care. Such surveys focus on assessing whether the patient experiences critical aspects of healthcare. The survey also evaluates other factors, such as communication with the care provider and coordination from the provider for the patient’s needs. However, what these surveys don’t focus on are the amenities. 

CAHPS surveys, however, assess a patient’s experience with health plans, medical facilities, healthcare agencies, and healthcare providers. In this blog, we’ll dive into the need and goal of CAHPS surveys in healthcare. 

What is a CAHPS Survey?

The acronym CAHPS Survey stands for Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems. The target audience for these surveys is patients of a hospital. 

CAHPS surveys follow a set of scientific principles in the development and design of the survey. It uses standardized questions and data collection protocols to evaluate the experience of a large patient sample reliably. This also ensures that you can compare the data collected across healthcare settings. 

Different organizations collected information from enrollees, and the survey and the data varied across sponsors and changed over the years. As a response to the lack of reliable information about the quality of healthcare plans from the enrollee’s perceptive, AHRQ launched the CAHPS program.

The survey now helps evaluate healthcare services and identify patients’ needs.

CAHPS surveys are used to ask patients about their healthcare experiences and feedback about the services provided at a hospital. They measure the patient’s experience with the doctors, clinics, hospital care teams, etc. They can also be used to record their opinions on health plans, dialysis centers, lab facilities, and emergency services. 

Healthcare providers can use the data collected from CAHPS surveys to improve their patient experience. They focus on subjects that are important for patients. 

CAHPS surveys are designed using scientific principles. They incorporate standard questions and are circulated among a large sample of patients.

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Why use CAHPS Surveys?

Patients’ experiences with healthcare are the emphasis of the CAHPS survey. Even though healthcare organizations hear a lot from their patients, they may not know what to do with the information. A CAHPS survey can help in this situation. 

The survey creators aim to design a survey that includes topics essential to both patients and healthcare professionals:

  • Clear communication with doctors.
  • Whether or not they are treated with respect.
  • To evaluate the accessibility of healthcare facilities. 
  • Whether they can understand the information provided to them.

CAHPS surveys: Purpose and goal

The CAHPS or Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey helps government agencies, healthcare providers, and private organizations to evaluate patients’ experience with health services. The goals and purpose of these surveys are: 

01. To develop a standardized program to gather and compare patient data across providers and over time. 

02. To assess critical factors in healthcare, such as access to healthcare, quality of care, and communication in terms of patients’ experience. 

03. To increase transparency and hold care providers and systems accountable for the quality of care provided. 

04. To use the data to identify the areas for improvement, develop effective interventions, and make informed policy decisions. 

CAHPS surveys: Importance in the healthcare industry

CAHPS survey questions are standardized across private and public organizations. The standard set of questions helps align the expectations on the quality of care across providers. Here are some benefits of CAHPS surveys:

1. Improve the quality of care:  

The survey allows you to see how your organization provides care from a patient’s perspective. It allows you to develop strategies to enhance your relationship with patients. It also helps you to bring awareness of preventive medicine and patient safety for a holistic approach to care. 

2. Capture patient-reported experience:

Rather than assuming how patients must feel about the experience they receive, you gather the feedback directly from them. Administer the survey via channels the patients prefer and encourage them to offer honest feedback.

Gather honest and accurate feedback to make decisions based on patient-reported data. 

3. Identify gaps in experience:

Patient-reported data also allows you to identify disparities in the care they receive. Moreover, it also helps you identify a discrepancy in care among different populations. With the data, you can develop interventions and initiatives to address the disparities and bridge the gap. 

4. Gain a competitive edge: 

The CAHPS survey also offers a competitive advantage. Patients nowadays conduct their own research and compare various healthcare services before scheduling. With the public reporting of CAHPS results, you can make it easy for patients to see how your services differ from the others. 

Principles of CAHPS Surveys

Since the launch of CAHPS surveys, the principles have undergone refinement. It now goes beyond a public report which includes performance assessment, value-based purchasing, and quality improvement. The developers of CAHPS survey questions must comply with the following principles to maintain the quality, consistency, and comparability of the survey data over time. 

1. Consumers and patients are the focus

The best source of information is the persons who availed the healthcare services. They do not aim at collecting data that can be obtained more efficiently through other approaches.

Patients are the central source of information for CAHPS surveys. Hence, these surveys spend a lot of time identifying issues that can impact the decisions of healthcare consumers.

 2. Applicability to a Diverse Group of Individuals

The goal of CAHPS surveys is to create them in a way that will be beneficial to a wide range of people. For example, Special groups, such as children and adults with chronic impairments might have their experiences recorded in the survey. Also, CAHPS surveys can be used by people with any type of insurance like Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial insurance. They can also focus on other stakeholders including administrators, clinicians.

3. Standardization across the method used

Survey creators adhere to the same set of rules so that the results of one survey can be compared to the results of another survey. To be able to draw comparisons from the survey results, a standardized format has to be followed in the following attributes:

  • Protocol

Protocols are a set of rules that surveys follow to keep a standard approach for collecting samples and engaging with respondents. The method used for conducting the survey can have an impact on the results, Therefore, it is important to use standardized techniques.

  • Instruments

The structure of a survey is kept common so that the same survey questions are asked in the same way.

  • Analysis

The algorithms used for analyzing the results should be the same to reduce differences in the way results are deciphered.

  • Reporting

CAHPS surveys use various tried-and-true methods of reporting the survey results. 

4. Reporting actual experiences of people

There are similarities between a CAHPS survey and a patient satisfaction survey. A CAHPS survey offers a broader perspective that goes beyond the general ratings of doctors and hospitals. It assesses the healthcare services along with the experience of people. The aim is to collect detailed, clear, and actionable data. 

5. Capture relevant data

CAHPS survey questions should be framed such that they ensure maximum results. Oftentimes, research is conducted to help improve the language and wordings of questions. The reporting measures used should be able to yield information that is valuable to the audience of the survey. 

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CAHPS survey questions to ask

CAHPS survey questions can be asked concerning specific categories as given below:

About the patient’s doctor

  • Do you have a personal doctor?
  • In the last 6 months, how often did you visit your doctor?
  • In the last 6 months, how often did your doctor explain things to you clearly?
  • In the last 6 months, how often did your doctor spend enough time with you?
  • Is your doctor attentive to your concerns?
  • On a scale of 1-10, rate your experience with your doctor. 1 being the worst and 10 being the best. 

About the patient’s healthcare in the last 6 months

  • In the last 6 months, did you have an illness or ailment that required quick attention?
  • How often did you receive prompt medical attention?
  • How long has it been since your last health check-up?
  • Have you scheduled a routine checkup at the doctor’s clinic in the last 6 months?
  • In the last 6 months, did you and your doctor have discussions about what you could do to stay healthy?
  • Did your doctor talk about when you should start or stop taking your medications?

Patient’s health plan

  • Have you enrolled yourself in a health plan that covers all your medical needs?
  • How often did your plan’s customer service provide you with the information you required?
  • Was the customer service staff polite and friendly?
  • Rate your healthcare plan on a scale of 1 to 10.

Questions on family’s healthcare

  • How often did the care personnel explain things to you in an easy manner while your family member was at the hospital?
  • How often did the team keep you updated on your family member’s condition?
  • Did anyone from the team give you conflicting information about your family member’s health?
  • How often did the care team patiently listen to your worries concerning the family member’s health?

CAHPS hospice survey questions:

  1. In the past week, how often did the hospice care team treat you with dignity and respect?
  2. Did you receive the emotional support you needed from the hospice team?
  3. How often did the hospice team members fully explain your treatment and care options?
  4. How well did the team respond whenever you called for help?
  5. Were the hospice care providers sensitive to your personal preference?
  6. How would you rate the overall healthcare you receive from the hospice team?

These CAHPS survey questions are just some examples of the type of questions that one may use depending on the research goal. The aim of such patient experience survey is to measure the quality of care, identify areas of improvement, and increase patient satisfaction with their experience.

Strategies to improve CAHPS survey scores

Paper-based surveys are the most common and traditional method to gather patient-reported data. However, paper surveys don’t have a high response rate. Health Research and Educational Trust trial has found that paper surveys have a 74% incomplete distribution rate

It is critical to capture patient data and, even more important, to modernize the method. Online surveys can help you streamline operational workflow while increasing response rates. Here are some strategies to boost response rates and improve scores: 

Omnichannel survey software: 

Reach out to patients across all online channels and integrate their data centrally. With omnichannel survey software, you can keep track of all interactions across patient experiences. Uncover gaps in patient data and make changes at critical interaction to improve the experience across the patient journey. 

Real-time feedback collection:

Online surveys allow you to gather patient feedback in real time. Send CAHPS survey after key interactions to encourage patients to share their honest feedback. By gathering data in real time, you can take timely actions and address issues promptly before they grow. 

Uncover hidden insights:

Get to the heart of the patient experience and uncover their sentiment. Use text and sentiment analysis to gauge the hidden meaning and emotion behind patients’ feedback. Uncover the positive and negative aspect of their experience to identify which interaction require immediate intervention. 

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In closing

CAHPS surveys help determine where healthcare organizations should invest their efforts in. They give an insight into how successfully the organizations are addressing the needs of their patients. You can create a survey that will help you with this using the CAHPS survey questions provided above.


1. What is a CAHPS survey?

CAHPS, or Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey, is a standardized questionnaire that helps assess patients’ experience with health plans and service providers. It covers a wide range of survey topics, such as access to healthcare, quality of care, communication, and more. 

2. Can patients opt out of CAHPS surveys?

Patients can opt out of CAHPS surveys if they wish to. The care providers must inform the respondents about their right to opt out of the survey. 

3. How does the CAHPS survey differ from other patient satisfaction surveys?

The purpose of the CAHPS survey is to develop a standardized questionnaire that allows you to compare data across different providers and over time.  The surveys enable you to evaluate the experience delivered by the healthcare services and not just patient satisfaction. 

Other patient satisfaction surveys don’t include standardized principles and practices to evaluate the patient experience. 

4. What are the principles that CAHPS survey designers must comply with?

Following are some principles that developers of CAHPS survey questions must follow: 

  • Patients are the only source of information. The questions focus on aspects of care that only the patient can provide feedback on. 
  • It should be so that the questions are understood and interpreted consistently by a diverse range of patients. 
  • CAHPS survey questions must ask patients to provide feedback on the care they have experienced or observed. 
  • The questions assess aspects of care delivery important to the patients. 
  • The survey questions must be consistent with the standards of care delivery. 
  • The questions provide event references or explicit time frames. 
  • CAHPS survey questions include references to the clinician, organization, or facility.

5. Why are CAHPS surveys important?

These surveys are important because it helps healthcare organizations identify areas of improvement and track changes in patient’s perception of their experience over time. The survey results are publicly reported, which helps patients to compare different care providers and make decisions about their healthcare. 

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