Reform in Action: Can Publicly Reporting the Performance of Health Care Providers Spur Quality Improvement?

Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) alliances have been pioneers in collecting and publicly reporting data on the care provided by local physicians and hospitals, and are beginning to see their impact when it comes to improving quality. The real challenge is turning the idea of transparency into the reality of quality improvement on the ground.

In less than a decade, the push for transparency in health care has come a long way. There are public reports on the quality or cost of care provided by hospitals or physicians in every state except Alaska, Idaho, and the District of Columbia.

Measuring and publicly reporting on the quality and cost of care is crucial to improving quality and lowering health care costs nationwide, and serves three important purposes: 1) it enables patients to make informed choices about their care and be better partners with their doctors; 2) it allows health care professionals to see where they can improve and motivates them to improve their performance; and 3) it allows consumers and purchasers to see the value they are getting for their money.

Aligning Forces for Quality is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s signature effort to lift the overall quality of health care in 16 targeted communities, as well as reduce racial and ethnic disparities and provide tested local models that help propel national reform.