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Standardized survey helps hospitals gauge service and improve quality

Under the direction of a pilot government initiative, hospitals across the country are surveying patients on their hospital experiences. The information will ultimately be used to give consumers a side-by-side comparison of hospitals and their services, but it may also be an opportunity for hospitals and their marketing departments to better gauge consumer satisfaction and use that information to improve quality. TThe Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) is a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) initiative to develop standardized surveys of patients' experiences at ambulatory and acute-care facilities. The intent is to standardize a data collection method for measuring patient perspective on hospital care. Representatives from CMS say that although many hospitals collect information on patient satisfaction, there is no national standard for collecting or publicly reporting this information to allow valid comparisons between all hospitals.