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Should You Participate in AHRQ SOPS™ Data Collection Period

The decision to participate in the AHRQ national compare survey database is not always easy. Do you wonder how your data will be used? Do you know what is necessary to participate? How do you know if it's right for you?

The decision to participate in national compare dataset can make anyone feel uneasy or uncertain about how their information will be used. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) first released the Survey on Patient Safety™ (SOPS™) for hospitals in 2004. Since that time, they have worked diligently to create additional surveys, each supported by a structured repository of survey results and extensive resources to improve patient safety culture. AHRQ’s data vendor, Westat, maintains the repository.  The Center for Patient Safety is a survey vendor for healthcare organizations, and we support the use of the SOPS™ as a tool for self-diagnosis.

The AHRQ SOPS™ remain the most widely used healthcare culture survey in the world. The surveys have been translated into multiple languages and are free to access on their website, making them available to organizations with even the most limited resources. Another advantage to using SOPS™ is the availability of benchmarks. Benchmarks provide an opportunity for organizations to compare themselves to others, a valuable step on the path to high reliability. 

Every two years, AHRQ offers an open data submission period. They collect survey data voluntarily provided by organizations that have administered a SOPS™. The data is aggregated and assessed, and summary reports are released that highlight general industry strengths and opportunities for improvement.  For more details on AHRQ's submission requirements, click here.

AHRQ uses collected data in two ways: 

  1. The data is used in research. Deidentified survey data is provided to researchers and others who wish to explore the findings, compare them to previous data, and evaluate them against other healthcare measures. Researchers receive the survey results along with minimum demographic information about the participating organization (e.g., general geographic location, bed size, ownership status). They do not receive information on individual organizations. 
  1. The data is used for benchmarks. Survey data is aggregated and deidentified, and benchmarks are developed and released in AHRQ’s biennial summary report. If your recent survey results compared you to AHRQ benchmarks, you've benefited from those who participated in the last survey data collection period. 

This summer, AHRQ has an open submission period for organizations that administered the Hospital SOPS™ during the last two years. Any organization can utilize the free online portal to upload a CSV data file. There are a few key steps for participation. However, clients who use the Center for Patient Safety's survey administration services will enjoy the ease of CPS submitting their data for them.  


Deciding whether to participate is not always a simple decision. Consider the following: 

  1. Did you administer the Hospital SOPS™ survey in the last two years? 
  2. Did you keep the core questions of the survey the same?  
  3. Do you have the resources to compile the data into the appropriate format? 
  4. Did you use benchmarks to evaluate your results and compare to others?

If you answered yes to the questions above, you should consider contributing to the national dataset. Your participation supports and maintains the quality of future benchmarks, and your organization will be a part of industry-wide learning. If you choose to participate, your results are deidentified, including the removal of all comments prior to submission.  

Your organization may still choose not to participate because of the resource burden to prepare the data for upload, the skepticism of confidentiality of the data, or your survey does not meet the minimum requirements for participating in the dataset, and that is okay too.  

The Center for Patient Safety administers the ARHQ SOPS™ to organizations across the United States and in other countriesWe’ve found that the greatest barrier to organizations participating in the compare dataset is the resources necessary to produce the required submission format. If you used CPS to administer your survey in the last two years, we will handle the data submission process for you, but we require your permission. Let us know if you would like to participate in the upcoming compare dataset submission.