Designing Consumer Reporting Systems for Patient Safety Events

Table 1. Key features of ideal consumer reporting systems from focus groups

Scope and range—Accessibility
System should allow reporting in both real time and after the event, and allow reporters repeated access to update the report.

System should facilitate access for diverse populations (e.g., age, race/ethnicity, education, non-English speakers) and should also be available to health care workers.

Scope and range—Anonymity and confidentiality

System should offer reporters the opportunity to be identified, with the option for anonymity.

System should allow reporters to decide how and where information is shared.

Scope and range—Voluntary vs. mandatory
System should be voluntary.

Levels of operation
System should be multilevel and integrated from local (health care organization-based) to State, regional, national, and even international.

Local-level reporting is important for consumer convenience and to provide immediate feedback to health care facility. Higher-level reporting is important for accountability, learning, and quality improvement.

Organizations suitable to operate a consumer reporting system
Independent, private, nonprofit organizations were preferred because participants viewed them as independent and less likely to have conflicts of interest.

Participants' views on government's role were conflicting or ambivalent (pro: has authority; con: too bureaucratic).

Organization should have consumer involvement, ability to make changes or linkages to organizations that can affect change.

Operational approach—Staffing
System should have staff to help consumers report, act as advocates, and provide a "human touch."

System Infrastructure and design
System should have multiple reporting modalities (in-person, telephone, paper-based forms, electronic submission) and allow both structured and unstructured reports.

System should provide meaningful and timely feedback to reporters.

System should have linkages with providers, provider organization, accrediting organizations, government agencies, educators, and others.

Purpose and Goals
Primary goals should be to improve health care quality, patient safety, accountability for providers and provider organizations, and learning (including educating providers and consumers).

System should empower consumers by providing information to use in selecting sources of care.

Linkages to quality improvement
Consumer-reported data should be publicly available.

System should provide feedback to providers and provider organizations.

Maximizing reporting
Need to implement public awareness campaigns about consumer reporting systems and patient safety, generally.

Need to disseminate information about consumer reporting within health care facilities (e.g., at intake in hospitals).

Essential to demonstrate that consumer reports of patient safety events are actionable and make a difference in improving patient safety.

Page last reviewed October 2014
Page originally created September 2012
Internet Citation: Table 1. Key features of ideal consumer reporting systems from focus groups. Content last reviewed October 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.