Improving Public Reporting Websites for Consumers

Lessons Learned from Consumer Testing of Aligning Forces for Quality Websites

During 2010 and 2011, eight community-based organizations tested new or existing public reporting websites with potential users to understand better how to engage their target audiences in quality information. These organizations are part of a larger effort called Aligning Forces for Quality, which is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This document presents recommendations for improving a public reporting website based on the lessons learned from that testing. The recommendations focus on three sections of websites that are particularly important to engaging and supporting consumers successfully in their health care decision-making:

  • Home page
  • Comparative reports of quality
  • Health information

Each section summarizes what problem arose in testing, why this was a challenge for consumers, and how to address the challenge, along with some examples. The examples come from the websites of the eight Alliances that conducted testing.

Using these recommendations—in combination with the application of effective strategies to display comparative quality information and contextual information that help consumers understand and use quality information—will assist your organization in more effectively garnering consumer interest in your website, increasing overall traffic and return visits. Furthermore, these recommendations are actionable steps that your organization can take to support consumers in using the information to make health care decisions.

Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s signature effort to lift the overall quality of health care in targeted communities, as well as reduce racial and ethnic disparities and provide real models for national reform.