Section 2. Who Is Coming to the Web Sites?

Users of Public Reports of Hospital Quality: Who, What, Why, and How?

Web site sponsors want to know who is visiting their Web site for a number of reasons. This information identifies the current, de facto audience for a site. It also can help the sponsor assess how well the Web site is attracting its target audiences. The information presented in this section comes from the survey data.

 

Key Findings

There was a very wide range in number of visitors coming to the Web sites during the 3-month period. In population-adjusted terms, Web sites had from 1 to 507 unique visitors per 100,000 Internet-using households in their geographic area.

 

The Web sites seem to be reaching at least a portion of their primary target audiences. The participating CVEs all believe they are targeting consumers, health care professionals, or both, and the survey data suggest that the large majority of visits come from these audiences. As shown in Figure 1, almost half of survey respondents were consumers (49%). Almost a third of respondents (31%) were health care professionals.

 

Sites vary dramatically in the extent to which they primarily attract consumers versus health care professionals. As shown in Figure 2, consumers as a percentage of all survey respondents ranged from a low of 16 percent to a high of 81 percent. Health care professionals as a percentage of all survey respondents ranged from a low of 10 percent to a high of 63 percent.

The volume of traffic appears unrelated to whether the site is attracting primarily consumers or health care professionals. For example, sites with a high proportion of consumer responses included both high- and low-traffic Web sites.

There is a "most common user" profile among current consumer visitors. Consumer respondents were mostly 45-64 years old (57%) or 65 years old and over (26%) and most were women (61%). The vast majority were white (90%), and most were well educated (64% with at least a 4 year college degree) and privately insured (67%).

Among health care professional respondents, there were approximately twice as many nurses or nurse practitioners as physicians. While the reasons for this pattern cannot be discerned from our data, we hypothesize that physicians visit the sites more often than was captured in the surveys. Physicians, as a group, may have a lower response rate to the survey than other visitors to the sites. Table 3 shows the number of physician, nurse practitioner, and nurse respondents to the survey at participating Web sites.

 

Table 3. Physician, nurse practitioner, and nurse respondents to the survey at participating Web sites

Web Site Number12345679141613815121110
Physicians (n)0000000011225599
Nurse practitioners (n)0000110002103243
Nurses (n)00000033034411463

There are very few Medicaid recipients among the survey respondents. Only two participating Web sites had any Medicaid recipients respond to the survey (Table 4). While we do not know the reason, it could be in part that Medicaid recipients taking the survey did not recognize "Medicaid" as their insurer since States often give Medicaid programs other names (e.g., Wisconsin Medicaid is called "BadgerCare").

 

Table 4. Medicaid recipient respondents to the survey at participating Web sites

Web Site Number12345678910111213141516
Number of Medicaid-insured respondents0000000000000012

The number of consumer respondents who were age 65 or older varied among the sites. Table 5 shows the variation among the sites in the number of consumer respondents who were 65 or older. Only a random subset of consumers received the demographic questions, so the number of responses here is low and the variation may not be statistically significant.

 

Table 5. Consumer respondents to the survey who were age 65 or older

Web Site Number12713864531014916121115
Number of respondents age 65 or older001111223335891219

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Implications

  • Sites may wish to target, both through marketing and report design, a consumer audience that they currently are not reaching. Potential audiences for further marketing include younger adults (25-45 years of age), including women of childbearing age, friends or family members of older adults, and minority groups. Medicaid clients are another key audience that seems not to be using public reports currently. Persons with less education were not well represented in the survey responses, and sites may wish to market to them specifically.
  • Sites may wish to target and further engage the population segment that currently visits Web sites: individuals 45 years of age or older who have a college education.
Current as of December 2011
Internet Citation: Section 2. Who Is Coming to the Web Sites?: Users of Public Reports of Hospital Quality: Who, What, Why, and How?. December 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/quality-patient-safety/quality-resources/value/pubreportusers/pubusers2.html