In Aaron Holbrook’s recent post on “Posting Quality Indicators – What’s Your Take?” he asks for tips for doing this successfully. This needs to begin with an evaluation of what you intend to accomplish by putting quality information online.
I see a great deal of interest in using quality data to attract patients. Research from Thompson, Pew and others indicates that patients do, in fact, respond to quality. But, I continue to be skeptical that such interest translates into the presentation of detailed quality information. Research appears to support the idea that client satisfaction seems to still rule health consumer’s perception of quality.
This makes some sense. How many of your patients understand- let alone rate you on – something like central line infection rates? It’s simply easier to rate a hospital based on your experience rather than quality data.
So, if health consumers are your target audience, focus your energy on wrapping a story around the quality information to communicate why it’s relevant and how consumers can use the information to make better decisions.
The stronger argument for putting your data on the table is that transparency leads to improvement. I’d strongly recommend robust executive support before you proceed down such a path. Not everyone will be equally happy with the scrutiny that transparency can bring. I am aware of some organizations whose quality reporting initiatives have stalled through political turmoil or arguments over the decisions of what to share or decisions to release statistics on a facility basis or an enterprise basis.
What I’d like to see in the future is quality and cost information coming together. That would at least be sufficient information that consumers might use it to make meaningful choices. However, I’ve not yet seen any organization putting that together.