In recent years, significant energy has been invested in developing health care price and quality information in hopes of engaging consumers to be more active when making health care choices. Although research shows that provider quality can vary greatly, many Americans still rely on friends and family when choosing a physician or hospital.
According to this commentary from the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC), for public and private payers seeking to encourage consumers to use quality information when choosing physicians, hospitals and other providers, a critical first step is to raise consumer awareness of the existence and serious implications of provider quality gaps. Unlike price transparency—where consumer needs vary greatly depending on whether they are insured or not, and if they are insured, how their benefits are structured—theoretically all consumers can benefit from the same information on the quality of care provided by individual physicians, medical groups, hospitals and other providers. Until consumers are motivated to use quality information to choose providers, the main value of public quality reporting will likely be to motivate providers to improve their performance.