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Fewer Patients Using Health Care Provider Quality Ratings Web Sites

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Fewer U.S. residents use Web sites that rate health services when selecting insurance plans, hospitals or physicians, according to state and national studies, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports. According to the Press-Enterprise, independent quality ratings organizations, such as HealthGrades, typically analyze data submitted by health care providers to CMS and other regulatory agencies.

A survey released in October by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that fewer than 15% of U.S. residents used quality ratings services to help them make decisions about health insurance plans, hospitals or physicians, compared with about 20% of people who said they had used comparative quality ratings in 2004 and 2006. Most people said they never have seen or used comparative quality information services, the survey found.

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The survey states, "This suggests that the challenge remains to get basic quality information developed by experts into broad use amongst the public," adding, "Furthermore, people report real difficulty in finding comparative cost-related information that many believe would help patients become more cost-conscious consumers of health care."

A 2007 study by the California Healthcare Foundation also found that while more California residents were using online services to find information about medical conditions and treatments, fewer patients were turning to the Internet to find quality ratings data that could help them make decisions about health care providers. Fewer than 30% of state residents said they knew about quality ratings Web sites, but only 1% of them used the data they found on the sites to make their decisions, the CHCF study found.

Bryan Liang, executive director of the Institute of Health Law Studies at California Western School of Law, said, "The basic problem of these kinds of ranking systems is that patients do not choose on the basis of scores," adding, "They choose on the basis of personal familiarity and experience with the health care entity or provider" (Hines, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/30).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.