How To Decide on a Medium for a Health Care Quality Report

How do you figure out which medium is right for your reporting project? If at all possible, try to base this decision on research with your audience. For example, you could ask them how they get information now and how they would like to get it. Then you could pretest materials in the field to see what response you get. Learn more about testing materials with your audience.

Answer These Questions About Media Options

Whether or not it is feasible for you to conduct this kind of testing, it can be helpful to think through these questions:

  • What are your options? Consider what you have experience with and what resources—such as skilled Web programmers—are available to you.
  • How well does each of these options fit your audience with respect to accessibility and appropriateness? Does a large segment of your audience have limitations or disabilities, such as vision loss or low literacy, that could affect their ability to use certain media? Some disabilities, for example, may limit the ability of people to handle large, detailed documents or to manipulate data provided on the Internet.
  • What are the implications of the medium for the presentation of quality information? Consider how each choice would affect your ability to display information, convey your message, and achieve your goals.
  • What can you afford? Consider how each option would affect your budget. Be sure to explore whether you can get “in-kind” services—such as design expertise or printing—from any of the partners in your project.

Consider Combining Approaches

Many sponsors struggle with the fact that they are trying to satisfy the needs of different audience segments at the same time, where these segments differ not only in what they want to know but also in the ways in which they want to receive information. For example:

  • Some people will be interested in and capable of processing a large amount of detail, while others will only want a "top-line" summary of the results. (Learn how to address this dilemma by Layering Data Displays.)
  • Part of your audience may be comfortable with a high-tech approach to delivering information, while others need a more personal touch.

One possible solution is to indicate differences in information needs in the report itself. For example, you could specify that certain information is intended for a particular kind of reader, while other information is pertinent for everyone. But this approach can get complicated very quickly. It also does not solve the distribution problem.

An alternative is to tailor your report to the various segments in your audience. For example, you could produce a comprehensive Web site as well as a brief printed report. But if you do this, you must also tailor your distribution strategy. That is, you will need to think through how you will overcome the logistical challenge of getting people the version that is right for them. While this is not easy, the following advice may prove useful:

  • Let consumers self-select by making the appropriate information available in a place they are likely to be, through a trusted channel, and in a medium with which they are comfortable.
  • Use several different media to deliver the same information, since you can never be absolutely sure which ones your audience will embrace. Also, people are more likely to hear and remember your message if it is repeated through a variety of media.

Also in "Media for a Quality Report"

Page last reviewed February 2016
Page originally created February 2015
Internet Citation: How To Decide on a Medium for a Health Care Quality Report. Content last reviewed February 2016. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
Back To Top