CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF SERVICES (CSS) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) founded in 1974. Our organization has decades of experience in healthcare surveys, research, analysis, and reporting. We work with research organizations, Federal agencies, health plans, healthcare providers, and State insurance exchanges to measure, report, and improve the experiences of healthcare consumers and patients.


CSS CAHPS Certifications IconCSS is a recognized, award-winning leader in the healthcare field, with our organization or its leaders having won:

  • National Quality Forum's (NQF's) first-ever Consumers and Patients Quality Award,
  • First Place Award in Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Plan Comparison Tool Contest,
  • National Press Club's First Place Award for Excellence in Consumer Journalism, and
  • Consumer Federation of America's Annual Consumer Service Award.


Survey Research ExpertsCSS surveys millions of healthcare consumers annually, specializing in the assessment of consumers' experiences with healthcare, with unique expertise in data collection for high-stakes programs that include public reporting or pay-for-performance components. CSS is an approved survey vendor for several NCQA and Medicare programs. CSS conducts surveys in the mail, on the phone, on the internet, and via email. Sample sizes range from just 25 patients at a single clinic to hundreds of thousands of consumers, with surveys conducted in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and a number of other foreign languages.


data securityCSS understands the importance of information security and respondent confidentiality. All of our guidelines for data security adhere to HIPAA and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH). CSS undergoes annual security reviews, during which our privacy and security policies, our data management systems, and our IT infrastructure were tested by an independent external auditor. The most recent audit was completed in December 2014, when CSS completed a SOC 2 Type 2 review with no exceptions. Previous audits have included the SOC 1 Type 1 and the SAS 70 Type 2 reviews.

Our History

Robert Krughoff founded the Center for the Study of Services (CSS) as a nonprofit organization in 1974, dedicated to evaluating consumer service providers and reporting comparative information on these service providers. In 1976, Consumers' CHECKBOOK magazine launched in the Washington, DC area. Still in circulation today, this publication offers advice on obtaining services and objectively rates service providers and is supported entirely by individual consumers. CHECKBOOK has since expanded to six other major metropolitan areas (Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Twin Cities, Seattle-Tacoma, and San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose), with roughly 130,000 subscribers and no advertising.

In 1994, CSS developed and implemented the first nationwide survey of health plan members for public reporting, surveying 150,000 members of 265 health plans participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program. CSS designed the survey, drew the sample, fielded the survey, and analyzed the data. Since 2000, CSS has been responsible for analyzing all of the HEDIS/CAHPS data for the FEHB program for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). A few years later, building on CSS's expertise in survey administration, quality/performance measurement, and reporting, CSS launched the Healthcare Research Group. As an advisor, research and analysis expert, consultant, and survey vendor, CSS's Healthcare Research Group currently works with government clients, managed care organizations, medical groups, hospitals, and regional health care collaboratives.

In 1999, NCQA began certifying survey vendors to conduct the HEDIS/CAHPS survey, which they adapted from the CAHPS survey developed by AHRQ. CSS was among the first vendors certified and continues to conduct HEDIS CAHPS surveys for hundreds of health plans every year. In the interim, CSS expanded the quality measurement services provided to health plans to include surveys of physicians.

In 2002, Massachusetts Health Quality Partners (MHQP) chose CSS to administer its Patient Experience Survey, and CSS has administered similar surveys for MHQP periodically ever since, with results publicly reported on the MHQP website and through other outlets. In 2005, the Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH) selected CSS to administer its state-wide Patient Assessment Survey, and CSS has administered similar surveys for PBGH annually, with results publicly reported on the website of the California Office of the Patient Advocate and through other outlets.

By 2006, our CAHPS portfolio increased to include Medicare CAHPS surveys for all Medicare beneficiaries in traditional Medicare as well as Medicare Advantage. CSS was also engaged to field test the Part D CAHPS survey about Prescription Drug Plans. In 2011, CMS required Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans to contract with an approved vendor to conduct CAHPS surveys on their own and report results to CMS. CSS was among the first vendors approved by Medicare to conduct MA PDP CAHPS. In 2012, CSS was also approved to conduct Medicare Health Outcomes Surveys, which allowed CSS to better serve Medicare Advantage clients.

Between 2012 and 2015, CSS earned many additional CAHPS certifications and approvals: In-Center Hemodialysis CAHPS; CAHPS for Accountable Care Organizations; CAHPS for Qualified Health Plans, and CAHPS for the Physician Quality Reporting System.

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