Delivering Quality Reports in Print

While Web reports are becoming increasingly common, print used to be the most prevalent way to publish performance results and continues to be well suited to certain audiences. This medium enables sponsors to present text and graphics in a way that feels comfortable and familiar for them and most of their audiences. Printed reports typically take the form of stand-alone documents. However, some report sponsors integrate the data into other printed materials.

Stand-Alone Printed Documents

Printed report cards vary widely, from brochures to thick, data-heavy reports. When planning a printed report card, it is critical to consider the information needs and capabilities of your audience as well as how they are likely to access the report. Several quality reports designed for Medicaid audiences, for example, take the form of brief brochures that are easily made available through multiple channels.

Dense reports, on the other hand, are seldom usable or desired by health care consumers. People do not like being confronted with a "book" of material; if your report is perceived as unwieldy and long, your audience simply won't bother to look at it.

When designing a print report, keep these principles in mind:

  • Be as concise and to the point as possible, leaving out many of the details and layers of information that you might want to provide but consumers don’t really need or want.
  • Limit the report to the information that is most relevant to your audience.
  • If you are not sure what is most relevant to your audience, ask them.

Depending on your audience's needs, you can also consider producing a supplemental report that has the detailed data that some people will want.

Information Incorporated Into Other Printed Materials

Rather than distribute a separate report, some sponsors of quality data fit the material into other documents, most often open enrollment materials. This is particularly appropriate for health plan quality data.

On the positive side, this approach allows sponsors to offer all the pertinent information in one package, helps to show how the quality information fits into the bigger picture, and reinforces the importance of quality to the consumer's decision. It also may be helpful to lower-literacy audiences to have quality information integrated with other information they need.

However, this approach has two drawbacks:

  • A lack of visibility. Some employees may not see the information on quality if it does not stand out in some way. A related concern is that people may not look at any information in the enrollment materials if the re-enrollment process is automatic (i.e., if consumers do not have to take any action to re-enroll in their current plans).
  • Limited space. Report developers are typically given little space to present the quality data and any context that employees could use. In an open enrollment document that must present a great deal of information, only one or two pages may be allotted for the quality information.

EXAMPLE: Quality Information Integrated Into Open Enrollment Materials

Title: Guide to Employee Insurance and Retirement Benefits
Sponsor: Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago
Excerpt of report: http://www.ahrq.gov/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/cahps/consumer-reporting/rcc/sample47jewishfed2.pdf

Each year, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago produces a booklet of insurance and pension information for all benefits-eligible employees, who receive it before Open Enrollment. The Federation also gives a copy to new benefits-eligible employees throughout the year.

The booklet includes a visual summary of the CAHPS results as well as addresses for several Web sites that provide information on health care quality.


Also in "Media for a Quality Report"

Page last reviewed November 2018
Page originally created February 2015
Internet Citation: Delivering Quality Reports in Print. Content last reviewed November 2018. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. https://www.ahrq.gov/talkingquality/distribute/media/printed-report.html
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