Start of Main Content

Healthcare Insights

HCAHPS scores by state

After adult inpatients leave the hospital, a random sample receives a survey from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS). The patient satisfaction survey questions, also referred to as the CAHPS Hospital Survey, ask about caregiver communication and responsiveness, hospital cleanliness, and preparations for the patient’s return home.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) developed the survey to reflect the patients’ assessment of the care they receive at the hospital. Survey results can reflect the patient experience, perspective, and quality of care, as well as provide insight to hospitals and healthcare systems on how to improve their HCAHPS scores.

The Definitive Healthcare HospitalView product tracks HCAHPS data for nearly 3,300 U.S. hospitals. This Healthcare Insight reviews average HCAHPS scores for each U.S. state.

Average HCAHPS score by state

Fig 1. Data is from our HospitalView product and sourced from the January 2024 HCAHPS results published by CMS. Accessed April 2024.

Which states have the highest average HCAHPS scores?

South Dakota (4.22), Minnesota (4.04), and Wisconsin (4.03) have the highest average HCAHPS scores. These states are also the only three in the U.S. with an average score above a 4-star rating.

Which states have the lowest average HCAHPS scores?

Washington D.C. (2.17), Florida (2.61), and New Jersey (2.61) have the lowest average HCAPHS scores.

What is the average HCAHPS score?

The average HCAHPS score across nearly 3,300 U.S. hospitals tracked in HospitalView is 3.33.

What factors affect HCAHPS scores?

Hospital ratings are based on individual patient survey responses. The health of the patient population, the level of specialized care a hospital can provide, patient-to-provider ratios, busy patient-care settings, and staffing shortages can all affect how a patient rates their hospital experience, among many other factors.

How many questions are on the HCAHPS survey?

The HCAHPS survey has a total of 29 questions that break down as follows:

  • 19 items ask questions on the hospital experience, from communication with doctors and nurses to the patient’s recommendation of the hospital to others.
  • 7 demographic questions, including five that adjust for patient mix and two that support congressionally mandated reporting.
  • 3 screening questions that field respondents to appropriate sections of the survey.

What is a good HCAHPS score?

The overall HCAHPS summary score is on a 5-star rating scale, with 1-star being the lowest and 5-star the highest. Summary star ratings average the hospital’s ratings over the 19 main survey questions. Hospitals with 4- and 5-star ratings have the best scores from a patient perspective.

Are hospitals required to participate in HCAHPS?

Hospitals that treat Medicare patients and receive funding through the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) must participate in HCAHPS. If they don't collect and submit data or fail to report their scores publicly, they risk reduced Medicare payments.

Hospitals not covered by IPPS, such as critical access hospitals, can choose to participate in HCAHPS voluntarily.

Does the VA use HCAHPS?

VA hospitals also use surveys to assess patient satisfaction and experience, called the Survey of Healthcare Experiences of Patients (SHEP). While the name is different, the VA SHEP asks the same questions and has the same reporting model as the traditional HCAHPS survey.

Why are HCAHPS scores important?

HCAHPS is quite important for hospitals, healthcare providers, and businesses in the healthcare industry, though its significance can vary depending on the specific entity.

For most hospitals, particularly those treating Medicare patients, HCAHPS is crucial. High scores can lead to financial benefits and attract patients.

While providers themselves aren't directly mandated to participate, HCAHPS scores reflect on their performance within the hospital. Understanding patient experiences through HCAHPS can help them improve communication and bedside manner.

Finally, businesses that partner with hospitals, like patient transport services or medical equipment suppliers, might be indirectly impacted by a facility’s HCAHPS scores. A hospital with a high score could attract more patients, which could, in turn, increase demand for the business’s products or services. In some cases, a hospital might factor HCAHPS scores when making decisions about partnering with new vendors. Companies with solutions that demonstrably improve patient experience could have an edge.

Learn more

Healthcare Insights are developed with healthcare commercial intelligence from the Definitive Healthcare platform. Want even more insights? Start a free trial now and get access to the latest healthcare commercial intelligence on hospitals, physicians, and other healthcare providers.