Background and Objectives:
Delivering care as a patient-centered medical home (PCMH) is being widely adopted across the United States by primary care practices to better meet patient needs. A key PCMH element is measuring patient experience for practice improvement. The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) PCMH recognition program requires practices to both measure patient experience and engage in continuous practice/quality improvement to attain PCMH recognition and then throughout full PCMH transformation. The NCQA recommends but does not require that practices administer the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) clinician and group patient experience survey (CG-CAHPS) plus 14 CAHPS PCMH items, known as the CAHPS PCMH survey. We examine aspects of patient experience measured by practices with a varying number of years on their journey of PCMH transformation.
We randomly selected practices from the 2008-2017 NCQA directory of practices that had applied for PCMH recognition based on region, physician count, number of years and level of PCMH recognition, and use of the CG-CAHPS PCMH survey. We collected characteristics of the practices from practice leader(s) knowledgeable about the practice's PCMH history and patient experience data. We confirmed the patient experience surveys used during their PCMH history and requested copies of their non-CAHPS survey(s). For practices not administering the recommended CG-CAHPS survey (53/105 practices), we obtained and coded the content of their non-CAHPS surveys (68%; 36/53). We mapped the patient experience domains and specific measures to the CG-CAHPS survey (versions 2.0 and 3.0), CAHPS PCMH item set (versions 2.0 and 3.0), and the available CG-CAHPS supplemental items.
Whether or not practices administered the CG-CAHPS items, most of them addressed topics contained in the CG-CAHPS survey such as Access to care, Provider communication, Office staff helpfulness/courteousness, Care coordination, and Shared decision-making. The most common CAHPS measures included were Office staff helpfulness/courteousness and Provider communication. Common non-CAHPS measures included were Ease of scheduling, Being informed about delays, and Provider helpfulness/courteousness.
NCQA PCMH practices included CAHPS items on their patient experience surveys even if they did not administer the full CG-CAHPS survey or the recommended CAHPS PCMH survey. To enhance the usefulness of patient experience surveys for practices undergoing PCMH changes, additional CAHPS measures could be developed related to key areas of PCMH change, including expanded access to care (ie, after-hours and weekend visits, ease of scheduling, being informed about delays), use of shared decision-making, and improvements in provider communication (ie, the provider is courteous, communication by other clinical staff members with the patient). These additional measures would assist practice leaders in capturing the breadth and depth of their PCMH transformation and its influence on providing more patient-centered care. Developing such items would help standardize the measurement of changes related to patient experience during PCMH transformation. Research is needed to determine whether a CAHPS survey is the best source of this information.