The Stoeckle Center

The CAHPS program is funded and managed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Susan Edgman-Levitan, PA, from the Stoeckle Center and Paul Cleary, PhD, from the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, have led the Harvard CAHPS team since its inception.

About This Program

The term CAHPS refers to a comprehensive and evolving family of surveys that ask patients to evaluate the interpersonal aspects of health care. CAHPS surveys probe those aspects of care for which patients are the best or only source of information, as well as those that patients have identified as being important.

CAHPS surveys are similar to patient satisfaction surveys, but they are not the same. CAHPS surveys go beyond rating providers and health plans by asking patients to report on their experiences with health care services. CAHPS initially stood for the Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Study, but as the products have evolved beyond health plans, the acronym now stands alone as a registered brand name.

Beginning in 2003 and ending in 2004, the study's Harvard CAHPS team conducted a quality improvement collaborative learning project with group practices in Minnesota to learn how to improve service in those areas measured by the CAHPS survey. The Harvard CAHPS team and the Stoeckle Center will offer a similar program to practices in Massachusetts, and is working with the American Board of Medical Specialties and the American Board of Internal Medicine to develop a CAHPS survey that will be used in the maintenance of board certification for physicians.

The Harvard CAHPS team also will work together with the Massachusetts Health Quality Partnership to conduct a quality improvement learning collaborative that will be open to Partners and MGH primary care practices. The collaborative will focus on improving both the patient and clinician's experience with primary care and will involve nationally recognized faculty.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has provided funding for the Harvard CAHPS team to update the CAHPS Improvement Guide and distribute the publication in both a web-based and print format. The Guide is being used by health plans and group practices around the country to improve the patient's experience of care.