Improving Quality Information in the Consumer-Driven Era

Key AIR Staff: Pam Dardess, M.P.H.

In this project funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), AIR used a rigorous study design to identify and systematically test key features of data display for comparative quality reports that (a) help consumers notice differences in quality more readily, (b) help them interpret the differences more accurately, (c) and help them use the quality information more easily in making decisions. AIR also identified sub groups of consumers based on their information-seeking behavior and how much they value different types of information about physicians; as well as helped sponsors and developers of reports understand the impact and tradeoffs of including various data display or design features that highlight performance differences in comparative quality reports.         

The experiment showed that what critical design elements that help consumers the most include:

  • Rank ordering by performance as opposed to alphabetical ordering
  • Using symbols instead of numbers
  • Providing an overall summary measure
  • Including fewer reporting categories

The findings showed that best results are obtained with reports contain all four of thse design approaches. 

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