Does Publicly Reporting Performance Help Improve Health Care Quality?

Data reflecting the quality of care delivered by physicians and hospitals are typically referred to as performance measurement.

Releasing performance data publicly—via web sites, for example—fosters transparency and accountability among health care providers and sets benchmarks and incentives for improving care. It also influences consumers' choice of providers by enabling them to better judge the quality of care. Furthermore, Some research suggests publicly reported performance data spurs providers to improve quality.

In 2005, the federal government launched the website Hospital Compare with performance data about facilities nationwide, and in 2013, it will begin offering comparable doctor information online through Physician Compare.

Increasing numbers of regional organizations also are reporting on the performance of local providers. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Aligning Forces for Quality program is also publicly reporting the performance of providers in 16 communities.

This Health Policy Snapshot, published online in July 2011, examines the evidence that public reporting leads to better health care.