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An Alternative to Satisfaction Surveys: Let the Patients Talk

Alemi, Farrokh PhD; Jasper, Harry MAcc

doi: 10.1097/QMH.0000000000000014
Original Articles

We propose to replace the standardized 27-item hospital version of the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) survey with 1-item questionnaire that asks “What worked well and what needs improvement?” Sentiment analysis can take the responses to this single question and reconstruct a report on frequency of dissatisfied customers and reasons for dissatisfaction similar to reports received from longer surveys. This article shows, by way of an example, how benchmarked and quantitative reports can be generated from patients' comments. The CAHPS survey asks more leading questions, is less granular in its feedback, has lower response rate, has costly repeated reminders, and may not be as timely as sentiment analysis of a single, open-ended question. This article also shows the implementation of the proposed approach in one critical access hospital and its affiliated clinic and calls for additional research to compare sentiment analysis and CAHPS satisfaction surveys.

Rapid Improvements Inc, McLean, Virginia (Dr Alemi); and Jerold Phelps Community Hospital, Garberville, California (Mr Jasper).

Correspondence: Farrokh Alemi, PhD, Rapid Improvements Inc, 1319 Ozkan St, McLean, VA 22101 (, or Harry Jasper, Jerold Phelps Community Hospital, 733 Cedar St, Certified 3/2002, Garberville, CA 95542 (

Farrokh Alemi is vice president of Rapid Improvements Inc, where sentiment analysis is used as a method for conducting satisfaction surveys. The authors declare no other conflicts of interest.

© 2014Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins