HCAHPS: What MedTech Sales Reps Should Know!

What is HCAHPS?

The HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) is a standardized and national survey that measures the patient’s perception of quality care provided while a patient is in an acute-care hospital.

While it is pronounced “H-caps” it is also known as the CAHPS© (Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) hospital survey.


The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) along with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), developed the HCAHPS survey, also known as the CAHPS to provide a standardized survey instrument and data collection methodology for measuring patient’s perspectives on hospital care.


There are three (3) broad goals for HCAHPS

  • To allow objective and meaningful comparisons of hospitals on topics that are important to consumers
  • To publicly report hospitals HCAHPS results to create new incentives for hospitals to improve the quality of care
  • To increase transparency in the quality of care being delivered by hospitals and therefore make hospitals more accountable to quality performance.


The HCAHPS survey has (32) questions. There are (4) screening questions, (21) substantive questions and (7) demographic questions that review critical areas of the patient experience.

The patient’s perspective of clinical quality covers the following topics:

  • Communication with the nurses
  • Communication with the physicians
  • Responsiveness of the hospital staff
  • Communication about medication delivery
  • Quietness of the hospital environment
  • Pain management
  • Cleanliness of the hospital environment
  • Discharge management
  • Overall rating of the hospital
  • Willingness to recommend the hospital

Survey Eligibility

HCAHPS is used for all payers and not just Medicare. Many people mistakenly think this survey is only for Medicare patients and it’s not.

HCAHPS is administered to a random sample of adult inpatients admitted in short-term acute care (non-specialty) hospitals for medical, surgical or maternity care services between 48 hours and six weeks post discharge except for the following:

  • Patients under (18) years of age
  • Patients that were admitted with a primary psychiatric diagnosis, for rehabilitation or skilled nursing. These are excluded service lines
  • Patients from a correction facility
  • Patients who are discharged to a skilled nursing facility or hospice
  • Patients who pass away while in the hospital
  • Other patients excluded by law within a state
  • Any patient with a documented “no publicity’ status

Survey Administration

Hospitals may use the HCAHPS survey alone or include additional items following the core questions. Participating hospitals must survey patients throughout each month of the year and hospitals subject to the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) must achieve at least 300 completed surveys over four calendar quarters. Therefore, participating hospitals should strive to have at least 25 completed surveys done per month.

Survey Modes

HCAHPS can be done via mail, telephone, mail with telephone follow-up or active interactive voice recognition (IVR).

Languages Available

The HCAHPS survey is currently available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian and Vietnamese versions.

Public Reporting: Hospital Compare

The following 10 HCAHPS measures are publicly reported on the Hospital Compare website

(www.hospitalcomapre.hhs.gov) for each participating hospital.


Composite Topics Individual Topics Global Topics
Nurse communication Cleanliness of the hospital environment Overall rating of the hospital
Physician communication Quietness of the hospital environment Willingness to recommend the hospital
Responsiveness of the hospital staff
Pain management
Communication about medications
Discharge information



Why MedTech Sales Reps Should Care

Patient experience is a key performance indicator (KPI) that matters to the hospital C-Suite. Poor patient satisfaction survey results impacts their financial reimbursement and can impact their public perception since the results are available via hospitalcompare.hhs.gov. If your product, service or solution can improve patient satisfaction scores then one or more members of the hospital C-Suite will take an appointment with you.

If you product, service or solution can provide measurable value and proof they will find the budget to purchase from you. Key is understanding how your product, service or solution impacts their KPIs in a positive manner.

Develop a plan, execute it with precision and earn their business.