Few consumers have seen quality data for providers, survey finds

Although consumers say they value high-quality care and are willing to pay more to see high-quality doctors, few have actually done so, according to a new survey conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The problem is that 78 percent of the more than 1,000 survey respondents say they can't find information to compare the quality of care provided by doctors. And just 23 percent say they remember seeing information comparing doctors in the last year.

Consumers with private insurance are more likely to have seen quality information (27 percent) than those with public health plans like Medicare and Medicaid (17 percent). Another factor is age, with 25 percent of adults between 18 and 64 years old seeing quality information comparing doctors while just 16 percent of seniors saw similar data.

However, 66 percent of the consumers who saw quality data for providers in the last year say that information came from friends or family members. And 51 percent saw that information in a newspaper or magazine while 46 percent said they received it from their insurer.

What's more, few consumers actually trust quality information they can find through online patient reviews, insurers and ratings websites. Most of them said they trust word of mouth and recommendations from doctors more than other quality data.

Some insurers are working to improve this lack of awareness. For example, consumers in Minnesota can compare the patient satisfaction rates for different medical practices, plus how many patients have diabetes and other chronic conditions. And California and Massachusetts both report on how well group practices follow cancer guidelines and whether they avoid unneeded X-rays and MRIs, reported the Associated Press.

To learn more:
- here's the survey
- read the AP article