Debunking Myths About Patient Experience Surveys


  • Myth #1: Patients don't have the expertise to answer questions about the quality of their health care. Surveys used in public reporting such as the consumer assessment of health care providers and systems (CAHPS) surveys in the U.S. and the GP patient survey (GPPS) in the UK ask about patient experience, not technical quality of care. And patients are the best and only source of that information.


  • Myth #2: Patient experience is too subjective to be actionable. Good patient surveys measure specific care experiences, like whether the health care provider communicated in a way that the patient understood. Information from such surveys can help to identify aspects of care that could be changed to improve patient experience.




  • Myth #5: It's not fair to compare patient experience scores across health care providers or health plans because some factors beyond their control can affect their scores. It's true that factors like deprivation can affect patient experience scores. But such differences can be accounted for by a statistical technique called case-mix adjustment, which makes it possible to estimate how providers would score if they all served the same patients. Case-mix adjustment levels the playing field.


  • Myth #6: Only patients who have very good or very bad experiences take the surveys, so the results are biased. Although the possibility of bias is important to remember, studies have not found evidence that response rates bias comparisons of case-mix adjusted patient experience scores.


  • Myth #7: There are faster, cheaper, and more customised ways to gather information about patient experiences. Patients may find approaches such as online reviews less burdensome, and providers might see customised surveys as more immediately relevant for quality improvement than standardised surveys such as CAHPS or GPPS. But making fair comparisons between practices, providers, or plans requires standardised and consistent measurement such as that provided by the CAHPS or GPPS surveys.

Should Health Care Providers Be Accountable for Patients' Care Experiences?,