Growth and Impact of Web-Based Quality Ratings

Friday, November 10th, 2006
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

In reviewing some notes this week from a previous audio conference hosted by the Healthcare Intelligence Network, “Healthcare Report Cards: How To Get an A+ in the Public Reporting of Healthcare Quality Data,” I came across a reference to the growth of hospital report cards – the reference point was in terms of Google search results. In January 2005, there were 700,000 results for this term. Six months later there were 3 million. And, just a few minutes ago, there were 12.3 million.

Not only are hospitals posting this type of data about their organizations, but more and more health plans are starting to post quality indicators from hospitals in their networks on their sites.

What does this all mean for the consumer? Probably not too much for someone making an emergency visit to the hospital, but for planned episodes of care, the impact can only grow. As consumers, we are becoming more accustomed to researching our purchases online, be it “Consumer Reports”-type information or opinions of goods and services.

Just the other day, I went on a web site to see the difficulty rating of a Halloween craft that I was going to help first grade students make at a class party. A few years ago, it would not have occurred to me to look for this type of information online. However, the availability of this information, no matter what the content, continues to train me as a consumer to use the web as a source of ratings before making a final buying decision when given the opportunity.

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