Comprehensive Review Finds Meaningful Health Care Quality Information for New York State Consumers Severely Lacking
In examining over 70 websites, UHF researchers found little information relevant to consumers seeking to make informed health care choices
NEW YORK, NEW YORK December 12, 2017— United Hospital Fund’s Quality Institute today released a comprehensive report revealing that the information New York State consumers most want and need in order to make informed health care choices is severely lacking, leaving them without the tools to make better decisions.
Over 15 months, UHF researchers examined more than 70 publicly accessible websites and catalogued the quality information contained on 32 of them, for 10 common conditions and surgical procedures. The team found that, although quality measurement and public reporting have grown dramatically over the last two decades, most of the sites did not provide information that would be useful to consumers in choosing a health care provider.
Researchers also found that consumers were rarely involved in developing the measurements, reports, and tools, which could have ensured that their varied information needs were met. Missing elements included measures of patient experience and outcomes for specific conditions, aspects of the clinician/patient relationship, patient reviews and comments, and explanations of the data and methods behind the ratings.
Empowering New Yorkers with Quality Measures that Matter to Them, with funding support from New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth), also synthesizes research on quality measurement and reporting, interviews with a broad range of health care experts, and advice from a 17-member Advisory Group. It identifies the types of information consumers most want and the barriers to overcome to help New Yorkers become empowered health care consumers.
“Access to information on quality and cost is more critical than ever,” said Dr. Anthony Shih, president of UHF. “Yet few public reports or websites provide information consumers look for to make good decisions. This report provides a valuable service in thoroughly examining the resources currently available, the gaps in information, and potential solutions.”
“Shortcomings in measurement and reporting need to be addressed if consumers are to be engaged and empowered,” said Lynn Rogut, the lead author and UHF’s director, Quality Measurement and Care. “They deserve useful and reliable quality information from sources they can trust.”
UHF researchers conducted their internet searches from the perspective of a consumer seeking performance results or quality measures for hospitals or physicians in New York. They discovered a confusing array of websites, most of which focused on the technical and clinical dimensions of health care, of little interest to consumers.
The report recommends a number of strategies for improving the quality of information, including:
- Simplify quality measures and prioritize the information of interest to consumers.
- Build awareness so consumers, patients, and families understand why quality matters and how to find and use reliable information.
- Establish standards so consumers know which measures and sources to trust.
- Make it easy for consumers to find the information they want, when they need it.
- Provide help to older adults, people with multiple chronic conditions, low literacy and numeracy skills, and limited English proficiency.
- Innovate new measures, tools, communications, and partnerships—and involve consumers in those efforts.
Refining these strategies will require engaging key stakeholders and identifying policy levers that can foster change. The report outlines the important work that lies ahead before consumers have the tools to find providers that meet their needs and possess the qualities they value.
The full report, Empowering New Yorkers with Quality Measures that Matter to Them, or the executive summary alone, can be downloaded at the UHF website.
About United Hospital Fund
United Hospital Fund works to build a more effective health care system for every New Yorker. An independent, nonprofit organization, we analyze public policy to inform decision-makers, find common ground among diverse stakeholders, and develop and support innovative programs that improve the quality, accessibility, affordability, and experience of patient care. For more on our initiatives and programs please visit our website at www.uhfnyc.org and follow us on Twitter.
About New York State Health Foundation
The New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) is a private, statewide foundation dedicated to improving the health of all New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable. Today, NYSHealth concentrates its work in two strategic priority areas: building healthy communities and empowering health care consumers. The Foundation is committed to making grants, informing health policy and practice, spreading effective programs to improve the health care system and the health of New Yorkers, serving as a neutral convener of health leaders across the State, and providing technical assistance to its grantees and partners. Find NYSHealth online at www.nyshealth.org and on Twitter at @nys_health.