The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) defines patient experience as, “the range of interactions that patients have with the health care system, including their care from health plans, and from doctors, nurses, and staff in hospitals, physician practices, and other health care facilities. As an integral component of health care quality, patient experience includes several aspects of health care delivery that patients value highly when they seek and receive care, such as getting timely appointments, easy access to information, and good communication with health care providers.”
The Beryl Institute, a healthcare organization dedicated to improving the patient experience, states that patient experience is “the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care.”
CAHPS surveys are a measure of patient experience, according to AHRQ. These surveys are an objective measure of care quality, as perceived by patients, that are designed to help health care organizations use data to identify strengths and weaknesses, determine where they need to improve, and track quality improvement progress over time.
CAHPS surveys ask questions like the following:
- Provider explained things in a way that was easy to understand
- Provider spent enough time with patient
- Patient got appointment for care as soon as needed
- Provider listened carefully to patient
Patients respond by utilizing a response scale of Always, Usually, Sometimes or Never to report on their experience as objectively as possible. To assess patient experience, one must find out from patients whether something that should happen in a health care setting (such as clear communication with a provider) actually happened or how often it happened.
Overall performance on a CAHPS survey is calculated as a “Top Box” score. This is defined as the percent of questions that received the best possible or most desired response, which is typically “Always”.
“CAHPS surveys do not ask patients how satisfied they were with their care; rather, they ask patients to report on the aspects of their experiences that are important to them and for which they are the best, and sometimes the only source of information,” the agency wrote on its website.
“Because the surveys ask well-tested questions using a consistent methodology across a large sample of respondents, they generate standardized and validated measures of patient experience that providers, consumers, and others can rely on,” AHRQ continued.