The authors describe the history and development of the CAHPS Hospital Survey (also known as HCAHPS) and its associated protocols. The randomized mode experiment, vendor training, and "dry runs" that set the stage for initial public reporting are described. The rapid linkage of HCAHPS data to annual payment updates ("pay for reporting") is noted, which in turn led to the participation of approximately 3,900 general acute care hospitals (about 90% of all such United States hospitals). The authors highlight the opportunities afforded by this publicly reported data on hospital inpatients' experiences and perceptions of care. These data, reported on www.hospitalcompare.hhs. gov, facilitate the national comparison of patients' perspectives of hospital care and can be used alone or in conjunction with other clinical and outcome measures. Potential benefits include increased transparency, improved consumer decision making, and increased incentives for the delivery of high-quality health care.