Patients who shop for healthcare should not have to seek out information on quality


Questions about quality should be removed from the equation for patients shopping around for healthcare options, argues a blog post from Health Affairs.

In the post, David Newman, Ph.D., president of the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI), and Amanda Frost, Ph.D., a senior researcher for HCCI, write that standards of quality and ways to measure it can be quite varied. Because of that, many measures of healthcare quality fail to resonate with patients, and that focusing so closely on the patient’s requirements may lead care providers to miss measures that will actually improve care.

When providers hone in on those points and effectively work on improving quality, patients benefit regardless, according to the blog. Ensuring patients receive quality care also keeps the patients from having to seek out needed information and helps make sure that “we do not have to prod, educate, or cajole patients to be good consumers,” the pair writes.

Patients alone, according to the article, are unlikely to lead to significant gains in quality. “Improving quality and moving to value should not be dependent on activating 300 million consumers to respond with their dollars and feet,” they wrote.

Though star rankings from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services have been questioned heavily by lawmakers and healthcare leadersstudy data has suggested that there is truth in patient quality ratings, FierceHealthcare previously reported. In the blog, the authors do not dismiss quality measures entirely, but say that a focused approach to improving quality is key.

Accreditation organizations, state regulators, health systems and hospitals and professional associations can help steer the course to the measures that work best, according to the blog. Because all of those groups work closely and regularly with providers, they would have knowledge and experiences to measure the quality of the services offered, according to the blog.

- read the blog post