Union County Hospital chosen to participate in national HCAHPS ‘best practices’ focus group

Due to outstanding overall HCAHPS performance for the past five years, Union County Hospital in Anna has been chosen to participate in a national HCAHPS focus group during the virtual CAH HCAHPS “Best Practice Summit,” slated for August 4 from 1 to 5 p.m.

Insights from this focus group will be used to inform the update of the 2017 Study of HCAHPS Best Practices in High Performing CAHs, a national compendium of best practices, tools, and resources for Flex programs and CAHs to improve patient experience survey responses. The four-hour virtual summit will be facilitated by Stratis Health and the Rural Quality Improvement Technical Assistance (RQITA) program, in support of the HRSA Federal Office of Rural Health Policy.

Union County Hospital was identified as an HCAHPS best practices of high performing critical access hospitals (CAHs) through focus group discussions with 38 hospitals from across 17 states. The team at RQITA will also highlight effective strategies the CAHs, including Union County Hospital, have implemented to address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic during the August 4 meeting.

The updated resource includes:

  • An overview of the HCAHPS survey
  • Methodology for selection of high-performing CAHs and the focus group process
  • Best practices summarized by HCAHPS topic
  • A list of resources utilized by participating CAHs to improve HCAHPS performance
  • Wish list of high performing CAHs for further improvement
  • Information on use of the Small Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP) to support HCAHPs among focus group hospitals

Key strategies for each HCAHPS topic reflect the best practices cited most frequently by focus group participants. Additional strategies are those that were discussed but were identified by smaller numbers of participants. Hospitals that participated in the focus groups ranged in average daily census from one to around 20. The selection process for hospitals and focus group discussions were segmented by higher and lower volume CAHs to facilitate the identification of differences in best practices according to volume and ensure inclusion of strategies across facilities with varying resources. Few differences in best practices between lower and higher volume CAHs were found, but the variations that were recognized are called out in the findings in the link above.

The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) is a survey instrument developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in 2002 to measure hospital patient perceptions of care. The survey has been required by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for all Prospective Payment System (PPS) hospitals since 2007, and results have been publicly reported on Hospital Compare since 2008.

“Thanks to the generous sharing of HCAHPS learning experiences and strategies by the 38 successful critical access hospital participants from across the country, the purpose of this study has been accomplished: to learn about and share high performing CAHs HCAHPS best practices,” said Janelle Shearer, RN, MA, CPHQ, Program Manager, Stratis Health RQITA Staff. “Union County Hospital and the other critical access hospitals represented in this study range in average daily census from around one to over 20, demonstrating the ability of even the smallest hospitals to not only participate in national quality improvement programs, but to stand out as leaders and make lasting contributions that will impact the hospital care provided to rural residents across the country.”


The 2022 report will be made available following the August 4th meeting.