HCAHPS: An Introduction to Health Care Surveys

How HCAHPS Improves Your Healthcare Service

There are countless institutions, business establishments, and companies these days that conduct surveys to assess customer satisfaction. Most companies do this in order to improve their services and products, or to ensure the first-class quality of the products or services that they offer. Hospitals in the United States also give out surveys to their patients to ensure customer satisfaction and assess areas of improvement and quality of services offered.

For the hospital, it is more of a strategic approach to assess, diagnose, implement improvement and evaluate the present services offered by a medical institution. Since conducting surveys on hospitals can be a very complex and difficult task, the HCAHPS surveying system was launched in order to assist hospitals in carrying out surveys. HCAHPS stands for Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, which is a surveying tool and a strategic method for collecting data to assess the magnitude of clients’ perceptions with their hospital stay.

Before HCAHPS was launched, there was actually no formal method for collecting data and assessment for healthcare institutions. That is why decades ago; hospitals were never able to make comparisons on clients’ care experience, thus preventing them from comparing notes with other key institutions nationwide. In order for a healthcare institution to survive, it has to have continuing education by having conventions, meetings, seminars, and workshops with other hospitals. In the absence of the HCAHPS, there is no formal method of assessment to make this need possible.

The HCAHPS is founded with three goals that serve as its strong pillars. First of all, the HCAHPS survey is made in order to collect information or data with regards to how a client perceives the care in which he or she received during their stay at a certain hospital. With the collected data, the institution then makes careful and reasonable comparisons on concerns or topics that are deemed very important to their clients. Next, when the data is collected and reported in public, it will create awareness for consumers and will give more incentives for an institution to improve their services further. Lastly, because data is reported in public, transparency in all aspects of health care services is emphasized, and the institutions that unveil their reports in public are promoting solid accountability of whatever information that they reveal.

In general, the HCAHPS is deemed as a host of questions which can be tailor-made to live with the very protocols of a hospital. It is subject to the regulations of institutions and everything else that matters, including information that is collected on behalf of a hospital where the survey is conducted.

The HCAHPS is voluntary, and it is a hospital’s choice whether it will implement the survey or just go on with business as usual sans uniform quality assessment and control. In case a hospital prefers to get on with its HCAHPS scores, the survey should be conducted with the supervision of the Hospital Quality Alliance. This is an umbrella organization that covers tertiary healthcare institutions, insurance companies, health maintenance organizations, the government and other affiliating bodies that have something to own up to when it comes to a hospital’s quality of service.

A survey may be conducted through a phone interview, pen-and-paper questionnaire, or the IVR; which stands for Interactive Voice Response. After the data is collected, it is sent to QualityNet with accompanying instructions on how to submit a file. When the survey is finished and submitted, it is then up to the Health Services Advisory Group to extract and organize data, tally scores, and publish results.

It is part of the norm these days that hospitals should submit themselves for assessment and quality control. In order to do so, surveys such as the HCAHPS are conducted to ensure top-quality service for all consumers anytime of the year.

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