A Report Card on Provider Report Cards

Health care provider reports produced by health plans are less credible than those of local and state agencies.

This article examined how public reporting of health care provider performance influences consumer choice and motivates providers to improve their services. For 21 regions in the U.S., the authors assessed the availability, credibility and applicability (i.e., relevance to individual providers and consumers), of public reports of health care provider performance. The authors reviewed the websites of health plans, hospital and medical associations, quality improvement organizations and state departments of health; staff members supplied detailed information during telephone interviews.

Key Findings:

  • Across regions there was wide variation in public access to reports about physician and hospital performance.
  • Nearly half of available reports used established Hospital Quality Alliance (HQA) measures.

Consumers now demand “real time” information to choose among health care providers. For 21 geographic regions, this article found gaps in public reports about the quality of individual physicians.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Aligning Forces for Quality Initiative (AF4Q) played a key role in this study: the data came from an evaluation of AF4Q; and, on-site interviews for this article occurred at 14 AF4Q areas.