Do you think the public is ready to access this information and what it may reveal, and to use it to make health care choices?
History shows the public is not ready to access this information or use it to make health care choices. Only 30% of Americans said they had seen health care quality comparisons on health insurance plans, hospitals, or doctors in the past year (2007). (per the 2008 Update on Consumers' Views of Patient Safety and Quality Information -- Kaiser Family Foundation, 2008)
What steps can be put in place to ensure the public has access to such information?
What has not worked is the trend to have high deductible insurance plans and health savings accounts. These were initiated to have consumers make better, informed health care choices. It was thought this would decrease prices and improve quality. However, a majority of consumers are not making choices based on performance data. It appears that when quality has improved, it was based more on the fear that poor performance would threaten the reputation of the organization. (Rothberg 2008)
What will help consumers to make good decisions is publicly reported information that is accessible, understandable (this is important), and consistent. There are several groups rating hospitals, physicians, etc. The problem is they all use different standards to assess different measures ofstructure, process, and outcomes. They do not use consistent patient definitions or consistent reporting periods. (Rothberg 2008)
It is hard for consumers to make good choices when Leapfrog may rate a hospital (say for hip replacement) as doing the best job -- when HealthGrades may rate the same hospital as doing the worst job. They each have different standards. The public has a hard time interpreting the data provided.