Just ask me that question once, please

What makes patients happy? How do patients judge the quality of their physicians?

Answers to those questions may become clearer as two major outcomes-related organizations move toward creating one standard patient satisfaction survey.

The Consumer Assessment of Health Plans (CAHPS), a survey created by the Rockville, MD-based federal Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, and the member health care survey of the National Committee for Quality Assurance in Washington, DC, may be merged by 1998 to create one assessment instrument, says Charles Darby, MA, co-project officer of CAHPS.

The CAHPS survey contains questions that focus on patient-physician communication and patient-centered care. The NCQA survey includes questions that provide more information about patients’ health status, says Darby.

"The idea is to get the best of both," he says.

A final version of CAHPS was due for release this summer. (For more information about CAHPS, see Patient Satisfaction & Outcomes Management, January 1997, p. 5.)