Effect of HCAHPS reporting on patient satisfaction with physician communication

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Prior studies, using limited data from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) surveys, reported that public reporting increases satisfaction scores in all domains except physician communication. Our objective was to examine changes in patient satisfaction with physician communication using all available data.


We used publicly accessible datasets: HCAHPS (2007–2013), socioeconomic datasets from the US Census Bureau, and hospital service area (HSA) dataset from the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care. Satisfaction scores were determined by the percentage of responses to “doctors always communicated well.” Hospitals were grouped into quartiles based on 2007 scores. We used multilevel models to account for correlation between within-hospital observations.


HCAHPS data were reported by 2273 hospitals in 2007. During the 7-year period, overall satisfaction scores with physician communication increased by 2.8% (P < 0.001). The lowest quartile hospitals had significant increase in satisfaction scores, whereas the highest quartile scores decreased (0.87% per year vs −0.23% per year; P < 0.001). These differences remained significant after adjusting for hospital and local population characteristics. Survey response rate and the number of acute-care beds and physicians in the HSA were positively associated, whereas HSA population size and being a teaching hospital were negatively associated with patient satisfaction scores (all P < 0.005).


Although there has been an improvement in patient satisfaction with physicians during the past 7 years, this improvement was not seen in all hospitals. The overall gap between hospitals has narrowed, which can be further improved through sharing best practices. Journal of Hospital Medicine 2016;11:105–110. © 2015 Society of Hospital Medicine

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