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"Consumers Weigh In on Quality & Cost Information" by Katharine London

The Massachusetts Health Care Quality and Cost Council is committed to changing the face of health care delivery in Massachusetts over the coming years and to improving our quality of care, contain costs, and reduce racial and ethnic disparities. One key objective is to provide Massachusetts residents with the information they need to obtain high quality health care at a reasonable cost. Yesterday, the Council released the findings of a statewide survey of consumer interest in health care quality and cost information. The survey found several indicators that consumers in Massachusetts are very interested in getting that information.

The Council is mandated to create a user-friendly website that will enable consumers to compare quality and cost data for all major health care providers in the area. The Council commissioned this survey to help it design a website that will be truly useful to residents across the state. The survey found several key points:

1. Patients trust doctors above all other sources of health care information.

When asked about credibility, a full 66% consider physicians as their most trusted source of information, far higher than any other group or individual. Physicians will play an integral role in educating consumers about the need to seek quality care for the best value in health care.

2. Quality of care is the primary concern. Forty-nine percent said they would visit a website for quality of care data, and another 32% would visit for both quality and cost information. More significantly, a vast majority (63%) said they would use the website specifically to find out if a hospital is taking all the right precautions to prevent the spread of infections within its walls.

3. The public desires a reliable resource. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed would be very likely to use a website containing health care quality and cost information.

This information is significant because it offers both an understanding of general public sentiments around health care delivery, and provides a resource to guide the aggressive development of our website over the next few months. In addition to creating the forum for information, we will need to undertake an ongoing education campaign to help consumers learn to take an active role in seeking quality and cost data to inform their health care decision making. While the website will establish a viable hub of information for consumers, true success for the Council will be marked when consumers actively use this information to make decisions, and health care providers focus their considerable talents on providing the highest quality care at an affordable price.

Katharine London
Executive Director, Massachusetts Health Care Quality and Cost Council

This program aired on November 9, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

Martha Bebinger Twitter Reporter
Martha Bebinger covers health care and other general assignments for WBUR.

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