Skip Navigation
Search Menu
Patient Safety and Quality

In This Section      
Print This Page

Hospital Inpatient Experience

Key Facts

  • A positive patient and family experience while in the hospital often results in better overall health outcomes for the patient.
  • Clear communication from health care providers helps patients and families understand how to best manage their health and lower the likelihood of readmission to a hospital.
  • A standardized national survey sent in the mail to adult patients asks about their experience of care at the hospital.
nurse smiling with elderly patient

What is this measure?

Johns Hopkins Medicine monitors patient experience survey results as one way to ensure patients and families have a positive experience.

A standardized national survey called Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) is mailed to some patients after discharge to provide their perspective of how they experienced care from the hospital.

The survey asks adult patients questions about clear communication, discharge planning, the hospital environment and the patient’s overall experience.

Patient responses are submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which publicly reports the annual results from all U.S. hospitals online at Hospital Compare.

See examples of HCAHPS survey questions

  • During this hospital stay, how often did nurses treat you with courtesy and respect?
  • Before giving you any new medicine, how often did hospital staff describe possible side effects in a way you could understand?
  • During your hospital stay, did hospital staff talk with you about whether you would have the help you needed when you left the hospital?

Patients have the choice of responding with always, usually, sometimes or never. The percentage of “always” responses are shown in the data graphs below.


How does Johns Hopkins Medicine perform?

  • The Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
  • Sibley Memorial Hospital
  • Suburban Hospital
  • Howard County General Hospital

CMS Star Ratings

To make it easier for patients to understand Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey scores, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) developed a five-star rating system in 2015. Hospitals are given between one and five stars for 11 categories, as well as an overall summary. CMS calculates the number of stars by converting patient survey responses into scores.

Summary Star

CMS calculates the Summary Star rating based on the average from all 11 categories of survey questions.

Communication with Nurses

Survey questions ask how often your nurses listened carefully, explained things clearly and treated you with courtesy and respect.

Show graphs.

Communication with Doctors

Survey questions ask how often your doctors listened carefully, explained things clearly and treated you with courtesy and respect.

Show graphs.

Responsiveness of Hospital Staff

Survey questions ask how quickly you received help after pressing the call button or when needing to use the bathroom.

Show graphs.

Pain Management

Survey questions ask how often your pain was well controlled and if staff did everything they could to help ease your pain.

Show graphs.

Communication about Medications

Survey questions ask how often hospital staff told you what medications were for and clearly explained possible side effects.

Show graphs.

Discharge Information

Survey questions ask if hospital staff asked if you had the help you needed when you left the hospital and if you received health information on paper.

Show graphs.

Care Transition

Survey questions ask if staff took your preferences into account, if you understood how to manage your health after leaving the hospital and if you knew the purpose for each medication.

Show graphs.

Cleanliness of Hospital Environment

Survey question asks how often your room and bathroom were kept clean.

Show graphs.

Quietness of Hospital Environment

Survey question asks how often the area around your room was quiet at night.

Show graphs.

Overall Rating of Hospital

Survey question asks you to give the hospital a score from 0 to 10, with 10 being the best possible.

Show graphs.

Willingness to Recommend Hospital

Survey question asks if you would recommend the hospital to family and friends.

Show graphs.

Data Source: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services based on a random sample of patients discharged from the hospital.

*Benchmark Source: National and state averages are the most recent numbers publicly available on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Hospital Compare. National and state averages for previous years are not available.

Why is it important?

HCAHPS survey questions are designed to measure how often key components of a hospital admission happen. Patients and families can use HCAHPS survey results to objectively compare hospitals locally or nationally on inpatient perspectives on delivery of care.

Many of the questions ask if the patient received clear communication from health care providers. This information is critical for patients and families so they can understand how to best manage their health. For example, if a patient is clear about discharge instructions, it leads to overall better health and a lower likelihood of a hospital readmission.

What is Johns Hopkins Medicine doing to continue to improve?

Patient- and family-centered care is a key priority for Johns Hopkins Medicine. Each hospital has teams dedicated to ensuring the highest level of service excellence and patient satisfaction.

Supporting Families

Knowing how critical it is for families to be near their loved ones and how intimidating the hospital experience can be for patients, The Johns Hopkins Hospital implemented 24/7 visiting hours on all units. New areas of the hospital include private rooms and sleep furniture for one family member to stay overnight in the patient room.

Patients and families coming to the emergency room at Johns Hopkins hospitals are immediately greeted by a staff member to help them navigate where to go and to reduce the patient’s anxiety.

Listening to Patients

All Johns Hopkins Medicine hospitals seek regular feedback directly from former patients and families through Patient and Family Advisory Councils. The councils bring former patients and family members together with hospital leadership and staff to address patient experience needs and develop new ideas for improving patient care and communication.

Executive leaders also make rounds on patient floors to informally ask patients and families about their experiences. This helps give leadership a direct view of what is going well and identify areas for improvement.

Frontline Perspective

Josh Brunson Josh Brunson is an advocate for patients and families on the Comprehensive Transplant Unit. He finds answers to patients’ questions, helping to ensure a positive experience at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Josh Brunson
Clinical Customer Service Coordinator, The Johns Hopkins Hospital

“I love that my job serves as a consistent line of communication between the patients and the doctors and nurses. I ensure that patients and families feel comfortable and cared for and are getting the answers they need.

Much of the time spent in a hospital is waiting — waiting to be seen by the doctor, waiting for an answer or waiting to know when they can go home.

Patients feel the most frustrated if they feel they are not getting answers to their questions. Even if I don’t have the answer yet, I check in often and make sure patients know that I’m still working on their behalf. They just want to be heard and reassured that their questions or concerns are being addressed.

People can feel a lack of control when they’re in the hospital, so I try to make sure the things they can control go smoothly. Patients always look forward to choosing what they want to eat, so after the food is delivered I stop by each room to make sure everything was correct.

I love my job because it feels good when you can fix somebody’s problem and be that helpline.”

How can patients and families support safety?

Knowing about your health condition, medications and plan for future care are critical for keeping you healthy. If you are unclear about anything regarding your health condition or treatment, ask your health care team for help. You also can contact a patient advocate if you feel any concerns are not being addressed.

If you are interested in joining a Patient and Family Advisory Council, please contact

Communicating with Your Health Care Team

Hospital stays and medical treatments can be stressful for patients and families. Communication can be challenging, and it may be difficult to know what questions to ask your health care team. Many resources are available to empower patients to effectively communicate questions and concerns with their doctors, leading to better, safer health care. 

One resource is Doctella, developed in consultation with patient safety physician experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine. The online tool provides patients with specialized checklists of questions to ask their health care team and to-do lists to get organized before a medical procedure, surgery or exam. 

Examples of questions from checklists: 

  • How soon do you recommend I have this surgery?
  • Will I need anesthesia for this procedure?
  • What are my options for pain medications after surgery?

Patients who want to learn more can visit the Doctella web site to access checklists for surgeries and procedures. Click here.