This report is based on information from Hospital Compare, a website created through the efforts of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) along with the Hospital Quality Alliance (HQA). The HQA is a public-private collaboration established to promote reporting on hospital quality of care.
The HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) survey was used to collect information. This survey asks patients about their experiences with care during a recent overnight stay in the hospital and allows consumers to make fair and objective comparisons between hospitals. All hospitals use the same survey questionnaire and standardized data collection procedures. The HCAHPS survey does not replace surveys that hospitals may do on their own.
The HCAHPS survey was developed by a partnership of public and private organizations. Development of the survey was funded by the Federal government, specifically the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The survey asks patients to give feedback about topics for which they are the best source of information; patients only answer questions about topics with which they have experience.
The goal is for each hospital to get at least 300 completed patient surveys per year. In general, the more patients that respond to a hospital's survey, the more the results shown on this website will reflect the experiences of all the patients who used that hospital. Patients are randomly selected to participate in the HCAHPS survey. Hospitals are not allowed to choose which patients are selected.
All short-term, acute care, non-specialty hospitals are invited to participate in the HCAHPS survey and most hospitals choose to participate. Specialty hospitals and children's hospitals are not included. Hospitals can choose to conduct the survey in one of four ways: by mail, by telephone, by mail and telephone, or by active interactive voice recognition (IVR). Regardless of how the survey is conducted, all patients answer the same questions.
Patients complete the HCAHPS survey after they leave the hospital. Data analysis is done by CMS, not by the hospitals. CMS uses an independent contractor to analyze the HCAHPS survey data and prepare it for reporting.
Data analysis is designed to help ensure fair comparisons among hospitals. Preparing the data for public reporting includes taking certain factors into account in ways that help ensure fair comparisons among hospitals. For example, the mix of patients can differ from one hospital to the next, and these differences in the patient mix can affect a hospital's HCAHPS results. Data preparation takes these differences into account so that the survey results reported are what would be expected for each hospital if all hospitals had a similar mix of patients.
In April, 2016 CMS introduced Hospital Compare Star Ratings for HCAHPS measures plus a Summary Star Rating that combines individual measures into a single score. CMS believed that star ratings make it easier for consumers to understand comparisons among hospitals. The methodology is described at http://www.hcahpsonline.org/files/HCAHPS_Stars_Tech_Notes_9_17_14.pdf.