Why Promote a Health Care Quality Report to Consumers?
Among report sponsors and researchers in the field of quality reporting, a general consensus has emerged that:
- The primary audience for public quality reports is health care consumers or, more often, a strategically chosen subset of those consumers.
- A report that is not promoted to this audience is a report they will not use.
- If your report is not used by your target audience:
- All the time, energy, and resources used to create it is wasted.
- You are less likely to see sustained improvements in quality.
- Your financial and other support could decline or even end.
Debunking the “If We Build It, They Will Come” Theory
Why won’t people in the community just find and use a quality report on their own?
- The idea that health care quality should be a concern of consumers and patients is new and unfamiliar.
- Quality reports themselves are new and unfamiliar.
- Most people don’t realize a report on quality might be available or useful.
Even if your early audience research indicates that people would like to have access to comparative quality information, you need to be proactive to make sure they:
- Know about your report.
- Can find it easily.
- Recognize the benefits of using quality information.
Promotion as a Standard Practice
Every product or service has to be promoted in order to become a well-known and trusted “brand.” This basic tenet of marketing was confirmed by a recent in-depth study of four popular tools used by consumers to make decisions outside of health care:
- Consumer Reports Auto Buying Guide.
- U.S. News and World Reports’ issue on America’s Best Colleges.
- The Nutrition Facts Panel mandated by the Food and Drug Administration.
- eBay, the online auction site.
Ongoing and multifaceted promotion efforts directed at potential users were a key element in all four cases. The sponsors of these decision aids all assumed that promotion was essential, not optional. They expected to, and did, make substantial investments to ensure that promotional efforts not only took place but were effective. None relied on consumers to find their own way.
This project, called Getting Tools Used, was conducted by the Center for Advancing Health. Learn more about the findings of the Getting Tools Used project.