Studying Maine's Pathways to Excellence Program

Field of Work: Reporting on health care quality to improve quality of care

Problem Synopsis: Despite significant amounts of time and money invested in publicly reporting on the performance of health care providers, surprisingly little is known about whether and how they use such reports to improve the quality of care.

Synopsis of the Work: More than half of Maine's 400-plus primary care practices participate in Pathways to Excellence (PTE), a voluntary system for reporting on health care quality. Researchers at the University of Southern Maine conducted a qualitative and a quantitative study of the impact of the PTE reports on health care practice and quality, using information on both filers and nonfilers from 2004 to 2007.

Key Findings/Results

Project staff reported the following key findings to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF):

  • Practices that filed PTE reports had higher scores on each of six indicators of health care quality than those that did not file.

  • The quality scores of all practices—reporting and nonreporting—improved an average of 3.5 percent during the study period. Scores improved more among reporting practices, but the difference was not statistically significant.

  • Collecting information for PTE reports had a dramatic impact on most participating practices.