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At the end of the chapter, the reader will be able to:

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  1. Discuss the origin, background, and goals of the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems.

  2. List the preliminary domains covered by the Pharmacy Consumer Experience Survey.

  3. Identify how the survey can be used to improve patient outcomes with pharmaceuticals.

  4. Project the future of the Pharmacy Consumer Experience Survey.

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Most people, at one time or another, find themselves in need of ambulatory care pharmacy services. They may need to fill a prescription for a medication, purchase an over-the-counter product, obtain information concerning the medications they are using, or get assistance and advice concerning a broad array of disease prevention and illness self-management issues. In the process of obtaining these services, consumers gain considerable experience-based information concerning the quality of the services they receive. But, other than by word-of-mouth, consumers have had little way of passing this valuable information on to others who may be able to use it. Thus, in most cases, the information relevant to evaluating pharmacy quality that consumers gain through their personal interactions with pharmacies is lost. Quality of care surveys are designed to address this issue by providing a mechanism through which the information that patients gain through personal experiences can be captured, preserved, and summarized.

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At the broadest level, one can distinguish between two dimensions of health care quality: (1) the technical or clinical aspects of care and (2) the experiences patients have during the process of seeking and obtaining services.1 With respect to pharmacy services, technical aspects of care include: whether the patient obtains the correct medication, whether medications are labeled appropriately, and whether the pharmacist checks for potential interactions among the medications that the patient is taking. But, even if these services are provided optimally, the quality of care may be poor from the patient perspective. Pharmacy staff may not give the patient the amount of attention desired or needed, questions may not be answered adequately, or sensitive topics may be discussed without sufficient privacy to prevent embarrassment. These are aspects of health care quality that require consumer input to evaluate.

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In this chapter, we discuss recent efforts to develop a standardized survey that can be used to capture consumer assessments of the quality of services they receive during ambulatory care pharmacy encounters. These efforts build on work conducted by the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) consortium. Thus, we begin by providing background information about the CAHPS program. Next, we discuss work conducted to develop the Consumer Assessment of Pharmacy Services survey and the instrument that resulted from this work. We then describe how the Consumer Assessment of Pharmacy Services survey might be used in practice to facilitate quality improvement efforts and issues that must be addressed in the interpretation of survey scores. Finally, we discuss directions for future work in this area.

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The CAHPS program was initiated in 1995 ...

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