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Patient Experience and HCAHPS at Essential Hospitals

October 15, 2019

In this new brief, Essential Hospitals Institute examines factors that influence patient experience scores on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey and compares essential hospitals’ HCAHPS performance with that of other hospitals.

Essential hospitals treat patients who often face acute challenges, both in their health care and in their communities. It is important to understand if the existing system of hospital performance measurement and incentives disproportionately penalizes hospitals for factors outside their control, such as the socioeconomic challenges their vulnerable patients face.

This brief summarizes the research on factors that influence patient experience scores, such as patient characteristics, hospital characteristics, and the characteristics of the hospital’s market. Findings from these studies can help hospitals identify changes that might improve patient experience scores, as well as help policymakers understand how structural factors influence scores and design incentives accordingly.

Research Brief – Patient Experience and HCAHPS at Essential Hospitals


  • Members of America’s Essential Hospitals, as well as nonmembers, improved their performance on measures of patient experience from 2008 to 2018.
  • Member hospital scores lagged nonmember scores in 2008, and that remains the case in 2018.
  • Patient and hospital characteristics, as well as the market within which a hospital operates, influence patient experience.

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