The case for becoming an informed health care consumer is a simple but compelling one. Uneven quality persists throughout the health care system after 20 years of investment in improving it. 

Why This Is Important

A 2017 report by UHF revealed that the information New York State consumers most want and need to make informed health care choices is severely lacking. It is still far too difficult for consumers, patients, and families to find meaningful information about provider performance that is relevant to the common health care decisions they need to make—for instance, which hospital to go to for elective surgery or where to find an excellent primary care physician. Without such information, consumers cannot fully assess health care providers or make careful choices about them.

The good news is that help in bridging such information gaps is on the way. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) has prioritized improving transparency and public reporting to better support consumer decision making. Initiatives underway by NYSDOH will expand and reorganize the existing content on its public websites to bring more meaningful information about quality of health care to consumers in 2020 and 2021.

Our Work

The NYSDOH Office of Quality and Patient Safety engaged UHF to help solicit a broad range of perspectives and advice from across New York State on how to improve the content, accessibility, and features of its websites so that they are user-friendly and promote informed use of the health care system. UHF helped NYSDOH organize and convene two multi-stakeholder workgroups in 2019—one for primary care and one for hospitals—that were charged with making recommendations about quality ratings and educational resources for consumers. Participants from consumer advocacy groups, providers, payers, and professional and trade organizations worked together over the course of a year to help NYSDOH refine its approach to quality reporting. UHF synthesized the workgroups’ recommendations in two separate reports for NYSDOH, which are now public. 

The Bottom Line

Comparative information can help consumers find providers who can best meet their health care needs—and avoid those who don’t perform as well. Easier access to such information is essential for better decision-making about where to seek care.

Publications

NYSDOH Hospital Quality Rating Stakeholder Workgroup Final Recommendations

NYSDOH Primary Care Quality Rating Stakeholder Workgroup Final Recommendations  

Empowering New Yorkers with Quality Measures That Matter to Them