If Consumers and Purchasers Could Compare Health Care Quality, What Would It Do to Health Care?

Making the changes necessary to improve quality, provide more efficient care, and lower costs is a shared responsibility. “It is really critically important that the consumers and purchasers have a credible voice in those discussions.”— Michael Painter, MD, RWJF Senior Program Officer

Dates of Project: May 2006

Field of Work: Performance Measurement

The Work: The United States is moving from a health care payment system in which doctors and hospitals are paid for the quantity of services they provide to a system that emphasizes the value of those services. But payment reform will not become a reality unless consumers and purchasers can compare costs and quality among providers. Hospitals, doctors, and health plans have historically dominated the process of developing and validating performance measures to make that possible. Consumers and health care purchasers have had little voice in the deliberations.

The Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project seeks to change that. It is a coalition of more than 50 leading employer, consumer, and labor organizations that recruits, trains, and supports consumers and purchasers to serve on public and private decisionmaking bodies involved with performance measures. The project also advocates for high-value measures designed to assess outcomes, rather than process, and educates policy-makers, health industry stakeholders, and the general public.

“As a society, we benefit when all the stakeholders are well represented, and there is a good discussion, and the outcome is a compromise.”—John Hoadley, PhD, research professor at Georgetown University Health Policy Institute

Key Results

The Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project:

  • Informs public and private bodies charged with advancing performance measurement and payment reform. These included comments about payment reform as the Affordable Care Act was being considered.
  • Recruits consumer and purchaser representatives to more than 80 decision-making bodies involved with performance measures, including the National Quality Forum, workgroups of the American Medical Association, and the Health Information Technology Committee.
  • Arms consumer and purchaser representatives with the technical expertise necessary to be successful advocates.
  • Advocates for an emphasis on outcomes, rather than process, measures and promotes the use of clinical data, in addition to administrative data and insurance claims.

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Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project: Helping expand measures to evaluate health care providers since 2006

The goal is “making sure that consumers, or patients, really do get the right care, at the right time, every time in a way that reduces costs for everyone.”—Peter Lee, former co-chair of the Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project