- How is this survey different from other patient surveys about doctors?
First, compared to other surveys and patient reports on physicians that are appearing more and more broadly on the Internet, this survey is much more rigorous, valid, and reliable. The survey was done using the Clinician/Group CAHPS (CG-CAHPS) questionnaire, developed by research teams funded by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The CG-CAHPS instrument was first endorsed by the National Quality Forum (NQF) in 2007 and also has been adopted by the AQA Alliance.
The experts who developed this survey focused on dimensions that are known to be important to outcomes and did thorough testing of the survey to be sure, for example, that patients understood the questions, that sufficient numbers of patients have had the experiences the questions ask about, that the questions measure different dimensions of care, and that the answers patients give are internally consistent.
Equally important, in stark contrast to what is commonly seen on the Internet, the procedures for administering this survey are designed to ensure reliability and freedom from manipulation and bias. The way the sample of patients to survey is selected ensures that the patients are real patients who have actually have had visits with the doctors they are reporting on, avoids biases or manipulation in the selection of patients to survey, and eliminates any risk that patients will rate the same doctor multiple times. The number of patients surveyed per doctor is large enough to produce reliable results, so that it is possible to identify doctor-to-doctor differences that are very unlikely to result just from "the luck of the draw."
Compared to many other surveys that have been developed or used by health plans, medical groups, or other providers, this survey has the advantage that it is a nationally endorsed standard survey. That means that it can produce results that are comparable across different uses, by different sponsors. In fact, the survey results, at the individual respondent level but with physician identifiers removed, will be provided to the federally sponsored National CAHPS Benchmarking Database so that independent researchers will be able to analyze the data and develop national benchmarks and alternative analysis procedures. Other surveys used by medical groups and other providers are of varying quality. Some are excellent and some focus on particular questions that are of interest in specific practice situations. But there are great advantages in having a survey like this one that adheres to a national standard.