Patient experience is a series of interactions that patients go through when receiving care, ranging from appointment scheduling to post-visit communication with a physician. When providers understand patient experience, they can deliver better care, increase patient engagement, decrease utilization of unnecessary services, and achieve greater employee satisfaction.

Ultimately, a positive patient experience leads to better health outcomes, which is why payment reform and care delivery models under the Affordable Care Act often include requirements for assessing patient experience. There are also financial incentives, like the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), where providers can earn a payment adjustment based on performance.

Measuring patient experience can be a complicated process, but in the end such assessments can help providers benchmark their quality of service and care over time. And if you use some of the resources and processes that have been developed for providers, the steps to measure patient experience don’t have to be difficult.

Here are three simple steps to measure patient experience:

  1. Use surveys for assessment.
  2. Organize a survey team or hire a vendor.
  3. Engage participants.

Use surveys for assessment.

Surveys are one of the most common patient experience measurement tools, and providers can access free patient experience surveys through the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS). CAHPS surveys are tailored for various types of care settings, from hospitals to hospice, and have been tested to ensure validated measures of patient experience.

Organize a survey team or hire a vendor.

CAHPS is funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and through AHRQ’s free downloadable worksheets and planning tools, providers can carry out patient experience surveys themselves. However, there are also outside vendors that can be hired to conduct CAHPS survey projects. Some providers prefer hiring a vendor to measure patient experience because vendors provide trained staff and ensure result neutrality.

Engage participants.

There are several ways to administer surveys, including email, phone, snail mail, and text message. There is no single recommended method of distributing surveys, but a mixed-modes approach is most successful. For example, survey links can be sent by email to patients, and automated text messages or automated phone messages can be used to efficiently send survey reminders.

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