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VOLUME 52 | NUMBER 4 | AUGUST 2017


Is Anyone Paying Attention to Physician Report Cards? The Impact of Increased Availability on Consumers Awareness

Objective: To determine if the release of health care report cards focused on physician practice quality measures leads to changes in consumers’ awareness and use of this information.

Primary Data Sources: Data from two rounds of a survey of the chronically ill adult population conducted in 14 regions across the United States, combined with longitudinal information from a public reporting tracking database. Both data were collected as part of the evaluation for Aligning Forces for Quality, a nationwide quality improvement initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Study Design: Using a longitudinal design and an individual-level fixed effects modeling approach, we estimated the impact of community public reporting efforts, measured by the availability and applicability of physician quality reports, on consumers’ awareness and use of physician quality information (PQI).

Principal Findings: The baseline level of awareness was 12.6 percent in our study sample, drawn from the general population of chronically ill adults. Among those who were not aware of PQI at the baseline, when PQI became available in their communities for the first time, along with quality measures that are applicable to their specific chronic conditions, the likelihood of PQI awareness increased by 3.8 percentage points. For the same group, we also find similar increases in the uses of PQI linked to newly available physician report cards, although the magnitudes are smaller, between 2 and 3 percentage points.

Conclusions: Specific contents of physician report cards can be an important factor in consumers’ awareness and use of PQI. Policies to improve awareness and use of PQI may consider how to customize quality report cards and target specific groups of consumers in dissemination.

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