Consumer-Driven Healthcare: All Is Not What It Seems

The Kaiser Family Foundation is one of the main organizations that contributes to our understanding of consumer health trends. I strongly recommend you look at the site if you are not already familiar with it. A recent study of consumers’ views on health care quality information reveals major challenges remain in providing the public with comparative quality information and encouraging its use. We all tend to think that consumer choice in healthcare is a coming trend. This study suggests that sites that provide provider quality information may be coming less common and may appeal to only the more “proactive” segment of the consumer population.

The 2008 Update on Consumers’ Views of Patient Safety and Quality Information finds that three in ten (30%) Americans say they have seen health care quality comparisons of health insurance plans, hospitals, or doctors in the past year. Not all people make health care choices or decisions in a given year that would call for the use of quality information, but this is a downward trend from surveys in 2006 (36%) and 2004 (35%) and roughly equivalent to the level in 2000 (27%). Further, just one in seven (14%) Americans report that they “saw” and “used” comparative health quality information for health insurance plans, hospitals, or doctors in the past year, again down from roughly one in five in both 2006 (20%) and 2004 (19%). For more information about the study, contact Rakesh Singh, (650) 234-9232.

By Joel Stegner, Networking Chair