Objectives: The Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Study (CAHPS) was developed to provide an integrated set of tested, standardized surveys to obtain meaningful information from health plan enrollees and their experiences. Many organizations began to implement CAHPS in 1997. Formal evaluations of the experiences of three demonstration sites with implementing CAHPS (ie, process evaluations) and the impact of CAHPS on consumer's choices (ie, outcome evaluations) were conducted. This article reports on the early findings and feedback from our process evaluations about the sites' experiences with using CAHPS. Results are presented from the first round demonstration sites, including the lessons learned during the demonstrations. Our plans for future demonstrations and evaluations are included.
Methods: A similar evaluation design and instruments were used across demonstration sites. The process evaluation to monitor program intervention included on-site interviews, off-site review of documents, and focus groups with consumers.
Results: There are 4 early results from the CAHPS demonstrations: (1) the CAHPS survey covers topics of importance to sponsors, is of reasonable length, and can be administered quickly; (2) the report templates are being used effectively, but sponsors vary widely in their preferences for summarizing and presenting CAHPS ratings; (3) standardized or off-the-shelf products are aspects of CAHPS that sponsors value highly, while emphasizing need for further development; and (4) because surveys like CAHPS require multiple within-plan samples to make plan comparisons, they require a substantial investment and may be affordable only for large sponsors.
Conclusion: The first round CAHPS demonstrations highlighted the strengths of the integrated surveys and the areas for improving the products and the implementation process.