Feds ready with patient satisfaction survey

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The federal government is ready to conduct a national survey of patient perspectives of hospital care. In a notice published in Monday's Federal Register, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services seeks authorization to launch the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Health Providers and Systems Survey.

The survey will be used to collect data to compare satisfaction rates among hospitals, and make the results publicly available on government Web sites.

Called HCAHPS, the survey is an extension of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's existing standard measurement for consumer experiences with health insurers, called the Consumer Assessment of Health Plans, or CAHPS.

HCAHPS will use standard survey and measurement instruments to give consumers "apples to apples" comparative data on patient satisfaction with hospitals. The data also will enable hospitals to self-compare and give state regulatory agencies useful information.

Hospital participation in HCAHPS is voluntary.