WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The National Quality Forum (NQF) today announced its endorsement of a standardized survey of patients' perception of their experience of hospital care. This new voluntary consensus standard -- representing the consensus of more than 240 healthcare providers, consumer groups, professional associations, purchasers, federal agencies, and research and quality improvement organizations -- is a means to collect and publish meaningful data on how patients view the care they receive in hospitals.
The primary purpose of the NQF-endorsed survey instrument, commonly
referred to as Hospital CAHPS or HCAHPS, is to provide standardized information across institutions and over time about how patients perceived their care. HCAHPS is a 27-item survey designed and developed over a three-year period by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Results from this NQF-endorsed standard are intended for public reporting.
"To improve the quality of American healthcare, it is critically important that the patient be given a strong and active role," said Kenneth W. Kizer, MD, MPH, president and CEO of the NQF. "Having a standardized measure of patient perception of care will enhance that role and give the consumer a stronger voice in the process."
The survey includes 22 questions addressing seven domains of hospital care: communication with doctors, communication with nurses, responsiveness of hospital staff, pain control, communication about medicines, cleanliness and quiet of the environment, and discharge information. It also includes five demographic questions (used for patient-mix adjustment and other analytic purposes). Other specifications include sampling; survey administration; survey and patient-mix adjustment; and reporting. The board of directors approved the survey as the final step of vetting through the NQF's formal Consensus Development Process, with multiple stakeholder input, review, and voting, to achieve special legal standing as a voluntary consensus standard.
"This is a milestone in the attempt to bring independent, reliable, and relevant information to consumers of healthcare in the United States," said Gerald M. Shea, assistant to the president for government affairs at the AFL-CIO, a member of the Hospital Quality Alliance, and co-chair of the NQF's Standardizing a Measure of Patient Experience with Hospital Care HCAHPS Review Committee, which discussed the patient survey at length. "Direct patient experience in hospitals is what consumers have been asking for years. It's been the Holy Grail in our search for relevant, actionable information for consumers."
"This is a great step forward in our attempt to understand how patients perceive their care in hospitals," said James W. Varnum, president of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Alliance in Lebanon, N.H., former member of the board of directors of the American Hospital Association, and co-chair of the NQF's Standardizing a Measure of Patient Experience with Hospital Care HCAHPS Review Committee. "Data that this survey reveals will lead to meaningful information that will help direct our quality improvement efforts, in part,
because the survey process has been standardized and the data statistically validated."
Source: National Quality Forum