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NPR: Patient Satisfaction Surveys Fail to Track How Well Hospitals Treat People of Color

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An NPR article highlights questions that are absent from surveys commonly used by hospitals to assess patient experience of their hospital stay (Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, or CAHPS), and whose results influence how much hospitals get paid by insurers: They do not poll patients on whether they’ve experienced discrimination during their treatment, a common complaint of diverse patient populations.  Likewise, they fail to ask diverse groups of patients whether they’ve received culturally competent care.

The CAHPS surveys could be far more useful if they were able to go one layer deeper — for example, asking why it was more difficult to get timely care, or why they don’t have a personal doctor, to identify racial and ethnic inequities in care. It would also be more helpful if CMS publicly posted not just the aggregate patient experience scores, but also showed how those scores varied by respondents’ race, ethnicity, and preferred language.  Such data can help discover whether a hospital or health insurance plan is meeting the needs of all versus only some patients.

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