Hospitalists can have a role in helping patients choose and receive high-value care from the vast array of health care choices they face. Helping them use quality and cost reports is one way to do that, according to a recent editorial by Jeffrey T. Kullgren, MD, MS, MPH.
We know that if consumers used public reporting of quality and costs to choose facilities that generate the best health outcomes for the resources utilized, it might improve the overall value of health care spending. But most people choose health care services based on personal recommendations or the requirements of their insurance network. Even if they wanted to use reports of quality or cost, the information in these reports is meant for providers and would likely be unhelpful for consumers.
Research suggests that different presentation of the information could make a difference. “Simpler presentations of information in public reports may be more likely to help consumers choose higher-value providers and facilities,” Dr. Kullgren said.
He concluded that consumers may also need additional incentives, “such as financial incentives to encourage high-value choices or programs that educate consumers about how to use cost and quality information when seeking care,” he said.
There’s an opportunity for hospitalists to help consumers learn to use that information. “This strategy would approach consumerism as a teachable health behavior and could be particularly helpful for consumers with ongoing medical needs who face high cost sharing,” he wrote.
“Some hospitalists may be involved in the implementation of programs to publicly report quality and costs for their institutions,” he said. “Others may treat patients who have chosen hospitals based on publicly reported information, or patients who might be interested in using such information to choose sites of postdischarge outpatient care. In each of these cases, it is important for hospitalists to understand the opportunities and limits of such public reports so as to best help patients receive high-value care.”
Kullgren JT. Helping consumers make high value health care choices: The devil is in the details. Health Serv Res. 2018;53(4). http://www.hsr.org/hsr/abstract.jsp?aid=53301961729.