Supported by a grant from the New York State Health Foundation.

Measurement sets and public reporting have become integral to health care reform efforts, yet too often don’t provide the quality measures consumers need and want to choose health care providers. Current measures focus mostly on the technical and clinical aspects of health care quality. Aspects of quality that the public finds meaningful and that can help them make informed choices, such as patients’ experiences with care and the doctor/patient relationship, have received far less attention by measure developers.

Why This Is Important

Choosing health care providers based on quality performance could become more critical as the market power of health systems grows in New York, health plans narrow provider networks, and consumers have fewer options. But most consumers are unaware that medical care quality varies, and websites that they might consult lack the kind of quality information about providers that would facilitate good decision making. Not surprisingly, most consumers don’t use quality comparisons to help guide their choice of providers.

Our Work

Supported by a grant from the New York State Health Foundation, UHF’s Quality Institute is tackling this problem by examining publicly available quality measures, the quality information consumers and patients prefer for decision making, the obstacles to finding that information, and the gaps between existing quality measures and those that matter to consumers. We will also consider options to support patients and consumers—including those with low literacy or numeracy skills or who otherwise need a greater degree of assistance—with quality comparisons that they can understand and use.

Key Questions

The project focuses on a number of critical issues:

  • What types of quality measures do consumers value most? How well do existing quality measures meet the information needs of consumers, patients, and caregivers?
  • What can be done to improve quality measures that are difficult to understand, websites that are tough to navigate, and complex reports that defy interpretation by most consumers? 
  • With varying consumer needs and preferences on quality measures, how can those measures be customized, and how can websites and other digital tools enable that? 
  • Can clinical performance measures be integrated with other types of quality information important to consumers, such as physician credentials, malpractice actions, and ratings and reviews by patients?
  • How can trained intermediaries help consumers find and interpret quality measures relevant to their specific needs?

The Bottom Line

For quality measures to be meaningful to consumers, they must be relevant to a needed health care decision, enable performance comparisons at the right level of detail, and take into account varying consumer needs and preferences. Websites that provide quality comparisons must be easy to navigate, and content must be relevant, customizable, and easy to understand.

Products from this effort include a catalog of publicly available quality measures, as well as a report that identifies opportunities and strategies for advancing awareness and broad access to relevant, valid, and reliable performance data that New Yorkers can use to help make informed health care choices.

Contact: Lynn Rogut, Pooja Kothari