Finding Quality Information
Today, you can find a great deal of
information about health care
quality, both online and in print.
New tools and resources for
assessing and improving health
care quality are being developed
and will be available soon.
Meanwhile, here is a brief look at
what is available now. Select for more resources.
Reports cards and other quality reports include consumer ratings,
clinical performance measures, or both. They can help you select
the right treatment and the right health care provider based on what
is most important to you. You may be able to get quality reports
- Your employer: Ask your personnel office for information on health plans.
- Health plans: Ask the plan's customer service office about quality reports.
- Other health care providers: Hospitals, nursing homes, and community health clinics may have quality reports.
Several government agencies publish quality reports and other types
of quality information.
- For example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a quality tool that helps you compare the care provided by hospitals in your area. This tool is available online at http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov.
- Another Web site (http://www.medicare.gov/NHCompare/home.asp) provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has detailed information on the past performance of every Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country.
Accreditation is another indicator that can be used to judge quality.
Accreditation is a "seal of approval" given by a private, independent
group. Health care organizations—such as hospitals—must meet
national standards, including clinical performance measures, in order
to be accredited. Select for a list of organizations that award accreditation.
Accreditation reports present quality information on hospitals,
nursing homes, and other health care facilities. For example, the Joint
Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO)
prepares a performance report on each hospital that it surveys.
Another group, the National Committee for Quality Assurance
(NCQA), rates health plans like HMOs. NCQA's Health Plan Report
Card presents accreditation results for hundreds of health plans
across the country. Select for Web addresses and basic information on JCAHO, NCQA, and other
If you need help in finding quality reports, accreditation reports, or
other types of quality information, check with your local library or
your local or State health department. You can find your State health
department listed in the blue pages of your phone book.
Consumer ratings tell you what other people like you think about
their health care. Some consumer ratings focus on health plans. For
example, a survey called CAHPS® asks people about the quality of
care in their own health plans. Their answers can help you decide
whether you want to join one of those plans.
Hospital CAHPS (HCAHPS®) will be released for the first time in
2006. It will ask patients about their experiences with hospital care.