Delivering Health Care Quality Reports on the Web

Over the past 10 years or so, there has been a steady migration of quality reports onto the Web. Web-based reports generally take two different forms:

  • An ideal approach is to design a report as a site that takes advantage of the interactive capabilities of the Web.
    Example: The Wisconsin Hospital Association’s CheckPoint site, with hospital performance information at http://www.wicheckpoint.org/index.aspx
  • Another common approach is to provide printed materials online in a PDF format, often in the context of other information on a site with a broader scope. While these reports do exist on the Web, they rarely offer the kind of interactivity available in a truly Web-based report. However, they do retain some of the advantages of Web publications, such as the ability to link to other information within the document and elsewhere on the Web. Note that when printed displays are simply reproduced in a Web page, it is helpful to offer users access to a PDF or some other printer-friendly version of the material.
    Example: The Colorado Business Group on Health’s Colorado Health Online site at http://www.cbghealth.org/publications/quality-reports/.

A Web site is typically an alternative to a printed report, but it is sometimes an adjunct. Despite ambitious plans to take advantage of this popular technology, some sponsors have to supplement their Web-based reports with written materials to meet the needs of the many consumers without access to the Internet.

This page reviews some of the advantages and disadvantages of using the Web. It also discusses decisions regarding “housing” a Web report and combining it with other information.

Advantages of Web-based Reports

Disadvantages of Web Reports

Key Decisions for Web Reports

New or Existing Site?

One decision you will have to make is whether to create a new Web site for your report card or place it within an existing site. A separate Web site will allow the report to have a unique identity and a stronger presence on the Web. However, if you already have a Web site that is known and trusted by your audience, it may be prudent to take advantage of the “brand” you have established.

If your report has multiple stakeholders, other options include:

  • Housing the report on one of the major stakeholder’s Web sites. One consideration would be whether one of the partner’s sites is already known, trusted, and used by the audience. Another would be whether choosing one organization for this purpose could cause problems within the partnership.
  • Creating a Web site for the collaborative effort. The downside of creating a stand-alone site for a quality report is that the site won’t be familiar to anyone, which means you have to take steps to promote the site and make sure people can find it. Learn about Promoting a Quality Report.

Merge With Other Web-based Materials?

While much of the comparative quality information available today stands on its own, there is also a great deal of information that is either inaccessible to the general public or hard for people to find because it is combined with other information for employees or enrollees. For employers that handle enrollment online or health plans that offer online information about hospitals, physicians, and other providers, the Web makes it easier to integrate information on comparative quality with other useful information. However, unless all likely users have access to the Web site, this is not a reliable way to disseminate information.


EXAMPLE: Quality Data in Web-Based Enrollment Materials

Title: Federal Employees Health Benefits: Health Plan Comparison Tool
Sponsor: Office of Personnel Management
URL: https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/plan-information/compare-plans/
The Federal Employees Health Benefits program offers enrollees access to Web-based information they can use to compare health plans on quality, costs, and benefits.

EXAMPLE: Quality Data Via a Provider Directory

Title: Find a Doctor – linked to QualityCounts
Sponsor: The Alliance
URL: http://www.the-alliance.org/find_doctor.aspx
The Alliance, an employer coalition based in Madison, Wisconsin, integrated quality information into a provider directory available to employees of coalition members. When an employee searches the directory to find hospitals that offer a given procedure, the information available for each hospital includes a button indicating if information on cost and quality is available. That button takes the user to a different site that shows the comparative performance of all hospitals in that category.

Related Resources


Also in "Media for a Quality Report"

Page last reviewed November 2018
Page originally created February 2015
Internet Citation: Delivering Health Care Quality Reports on the Web. Content last reviewed November 2018. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. https://www.ahrq.gov/talkingquality/distribute/media/web-report.html
Back To Top