Background: In 2006, the Dutch hospital market was reformed to create a more efficient delivery system through managed competition. To allow competition on quality, patient experiences were measured using the Consumer Quality index (CQI). We study whether public reporting and competition had an effect on the CQI between 2006 and 2009. Methods. We analyzed 8,311 respondents covering 31 hospitals in 2006, 22,333 respondents covering 78 hospitals in 2007 and 24,246 respondents covering 94 hospitals in 2009. We describe CQI trends over the period 2006-2009. In addition we compare hospitals that varied in the level of competition they faced and hospitals that were forced to publish CQI results publicly and those that were not. We corrected for observable covariates between hospital respondents using a multi level linear regression. We used the Herfindahl Hirschman Index to indicate the level of competition. Results: Between 2006 and 2009 hospitals showed a CQI improvement of 0.034 (p < 0.05) to 0.060 (p < 0.01) points on a scale between one and four. Hospitals that were forced to publish their scores showed a further improvement of 0.027 (p < 0.01) to 0.030 (p < 0.05). Furthermore, hospitals that faced more competition from geographically close competitors showed a more pronounced improvement of CQI-scores 0.004 to 0.05 than other hospitals (p < 0.001). Conclusion: Our results show that patients reported improved experiences measured by the CQI between 2006 and 2009. CQI levels improve at a faster rate in areas with higher levels of competition. Hospitals confronted with forced public publication of their CQI responded by enhancing the experiences of their patients. © 2012 Ikkersheim and Koolman; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.