Consumers typically don’t consult public reports of healthcare quality when choosing providers or making treatment decisions. Rather than a lack of consumer interest, however, research indicates that poor take-up is a result of the reports’ poor design, irrelevant content, and inadequate dissemination. Evidence suggests that consumers want easy-to-understand, readily accessible reports that allow them to compare providers and sites of care based on quality and value at key decision points. For public reporting to be effective, reports need to provide consumers with transparent, timely information they can trust to help inform their conversations with clinicians and guide their health care decisions.
Through an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality grant, AIR developed and evaluated an intervention to help pregnant women better understand and more effectively use maternity care quality information. The randomized controlled trial tested an intervention to increase uptake of hospital-level maternity care quality reports among 245 pregnant women in North Carolina—123 treatment and 122 control. The intervention included three enhancements to the quality report offered to the control group: biweekly text messages or e-mails directing women to the website; videos and materials describing the relevance of quality measures to pregnant women’s interests; and tools to support discussions with clinicians. Compared with controls, intervention participants were significantly more likely to visit the website and report adopting behaviors to inform care, such as thinking through preferences, talking with their doctor, or creating a birth plan.
The findings, published in a Medical Care Research and Review article, Increasing the Use of Comparative Quality Information in Maternity Care: Results From a Randomized Controlled Trial, indicate that reports designed to put quality information into the larger context of what consumers want and need to know, along with targeted and timely communications, can increase consumer use of quality information and prompt them to talk with providers about care preferences and evidence-based practices.