Putting patients at the centre of hospital performance measurement

How do patients feel about their hospital experiences? Do they feel heard by their doctors and nurses? Do they feel they received complete and helpful information before leaving the hospital?

Understanding patient’s experiences throughout their hospital stay — from arrival to discharge — is critical for understanding hospital performance. Patient reported information about hospital experiences provides meaningful insights that can help drive improvements in patient-centered care.

The patient’s voice: Reporting patient experience


Hospitals use patient survey responses to better understand patient perspectives, preferences and focus quality improvement efforts. To ensure that the data was comparable across the country, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) worked with health system stakeholders to develop a standardized survey to collect patient-reported experience information. The Canadian Patient Experiences Survey — Inpatient Care, in use since 2015, collects patient feedback about the quality of care patients experienced during their most recent stay in a Canadian acute care hospital. Survey results provide valuable insight into a patient’s experience. When analyzed alongside other important hospital indicators — like readmission rates and cost of a standard stay — they help provide a fuller picture of overall hospital performance.

Collecting and reporting patient experience information is an important part of CIHI’s work on health system performance measurement and CIHI has been working with provinces to support the implementation of the survey.

What patients are saying about their hospital experiences

Receiving timely information on a diagnosis and treatment options, being able to ask questions, or feeling like the staff care can mean the difference between a positive and a negative patient experience in hospital.

Results from CIHI’s report Patient Experience in Canadian Hospitals, which included over 90,000 survey respondents from over 300 hospitals in the five reporting jurisdictions (New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia), showed that

  • 62 per cent of patients said that their overall hospital experience was very good
  • More than two in three patients said doctors and nurses always listened to them carefully and explained things in a way they could understand.
  • Almost half of patients felt that communications among health care providers could be improved and that health care providers could be more informed about their hospital care

Results like these are integral to improving patient-centered care in hospitals by playing an important role in understanding patient outcomes, including hospital readmissions, complications, or medication adherence.

Optimizing hospital performance through patient experience

Comparable pan-Canadian patient experience data is a major step in fostering a system that places the patient at the centre of hospital performance measurement. The data can facilitate benchmarking, peer-to-peer learning and best-practice sharing, driving quality improvement.

CIHI is continuing to expand the collection and reporting of patient experiences across the country — with hospital patient experience data being made publically available in 2022.The goal is to drive improvements in patient-centred care and help amplify the voice of patients within the health system. Evaluating patient experience along with other components such as access, effectiveness and safety of care will be essential to providing a complete picture of health care quality in Canada.

If you would like to learn more, please visit CIHI’s patient experience webpage or email prems@cihi.ca.