Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Experts question whether patients will use performance data to choose their care

From a November 25, 2010 Eureka news alert

Analysis: How do patients use information on health providers?

Expectations are high that the public will use performance data to choose their health providers and so drive improvements in quality. But in a paper published on bmj.com [here ] today, two experts question whether this is realistic.

They think patient choice is not at present a strong lever for change, and suggest ways in which currently available information can be improved to optimise its effect.

Research conducted over the past 20 years in several countries provides little support for the belief that most patients behave in a consumerist fashion as far as their health is concerned, say Martin Marshall and Vin McLoughlin from The Health Foundation.

Although patients are clear that they want information to be made publicly available, they rarely search for it, often do not understand or trust it, and are unlikely to use it in a rational way to choose the best provider, they write….

…”In this paper, we present a significant challenge to those who believe that providing information to patients to enable them to make choices between providers will be a major driver for improvement in the near or medium term,” they write. “We suggest that, for the foreseeable future, presenting high quality information to patients should be seen as having the softer and longer term benefit of creating a new dynamic between patients and providers, rather than one with the concrete and more immediate outcome of directly driving improvements in quality of care.

November 28, 2010 - Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items |

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