Consumer Health Ratings is dedicated to providing consumers with information they can use to make better-informed decisions about their health care.
When we launched Consumer Health Ratings in 2006, the field of healthcare ratings was in its infancy in the United States. Since that time, transparency of performance results has become accepted. Today, there are enough quality ratings for hospitals and health plans nationwide, that millions of consumers can benefit. But the reports still need to make progress, and clarity in cost and prices still need much attention and improvement.
We believe that greater engagement and involvement by consumers will help move healthcare in the right direction. Consumer engagement helps health care leaders improve the performance of their systems, helps policy-makers make better decisions, and helps the American people achieve better health. Consumer Health Ratings helps bridge the knowledge gap between consumers and healthcare leaders.
Values and Principles
Improved healthcare outcomes and lower costs will happen when everyone exercises their responsibilities more completely. Consumers will do what they can personally to live healthier lives, to use the health system appropriately and to educate themselves about quality and cost of care. Healthcare providers will improve efficiency, increase accuracy, and display better adherence to recommended, evidence-based practices. They will consider and/or explain cost-benefit in their recommendations and care for patients. Educators will use their skills to improve health literacy and support citizens’ understanding of healthcare costs and performance reports. Health insurers will refocus on the community good. Policy-makers will attend to the public’s call for improvement, equal access, and affordability of health care and health insurance. The community at large will face up to special interests and weigh-in on the ethical debate about profit in health care.
We support health care that is safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable for all US populations, and appeal to Boards and health insurers for greater accountability to reach these aims. This commitment includes support for universal access to care, better use of our healthcare dollars, and reduction of medical errors. We support pursuing the Institute of Medicine’s eight recommended national priority areas: Patient and Family Engagement; Population Health Improvement; Safety; Care Coordination; Palliative Care; Overuse; Access and Health Systems Infrastructure improvement.
We must summon the courage to work Cost into our healthcare discussions. Current projections show total spending on health care will rise from 16 percent of United States’ GDP (2007) to 49 percent by 2082 [CBO, Nov. 2007]. Clearly, we cannot sustain a federal budget that provides healthcare on an overweighted basis. Instead of pursuing quality without regard to cost, we must embrace the notions of value for our healthcare dollar, and prevention rather than treatment only. We must develop an informed, evidenced-based consensus on what key factors are driving our healthcare cost problems, and tackle them for the long-term good of our nation. Cost problems must be better defined and agreed upon, before solutions can be adequately debated and explored.
The public should have the ability to compare costs among healthcare providers and insurance plans in a meaningful way, particularly for ambulatory care and surgery. Price disclosure helps build trust between the public and healthcare professionals. Consumers should be able to easily find what Medicare and Medicaid actually pay providers and others for common services. The current practice of deep-discounting by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers results in huge cost-shifting practices, and makes true costs virtually unknowable. Complicated pricing practices make it extraordinarily difficult to educate consumers on what healthcare actually costs in the United States.
The public should have the ability to compare quality across healthcare providers. We value transparency and continued expansion of publicly reported hospital results, to conditions well beyond current reports for heart care, pneumonia and surgical infection prevention, ultimately to include all payers for 80% of hospital admissions and outpatient surgeries. We encourage expansion of ambulatory care and medical group measures, and support physician-specific performance reporting on a selected basis when patient survival and other critical factors are at stake. Reported results should be adjusted for patient risk factors, and every type of health care service should report meaningful quality measures in an honest, straightforward manner.
Aggregate consumer ratings of their experience of care, their providers, and their health plans are an important part of public reporting. We encourage consumers to review such collective ratings, along with Quality reports and Prices. We encourage providers, associations and governments to standardize their approach to make comparability easier for the consumer.
The general consumer should not be required to be an amateur statistician, nor have a college degree, nor have to invest the time to read long, complicated reports, in order to get each type of information s/he needs. ConsumerHealthRatings.com will continue to seek out clear, accurate, short but helpful, conclusion-oriented information that the public can use to live healthier lives, and to inform their discussions with healthcare providers.
Both compassion and quantified measures are required to achieve great health care. Performance data without recognizing the importance of continuous healing relationships between patients and providers, lacks appreciation for the impact of illness and injury and lacks understanding of how health improvement is achieved. Compassion without hard measurement can result in purely emotional decisions that benefit one party to the detriment of the community as a whole. Information provided at ConsumerHealthRatings.com is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician or care coordinator.
We believe that the vast majority of people working in healthcare or seeking care are honest, caring, capable and trustworthy people. We believe that over-scrutinizing the masses (such as insurance company review of every individual citizen’s health information and claims, or entities over-regulating providers) is extremely wasteful and counter-productive. Respect also includes carefully protecting the privacy of personal health information.
Whether citizen, Board member, health professional, manager, educator, or policy-maker, we need leaders from every walk of life to step onto the field and help shape the future of health care in the United States. It is critical for leaders to take into account broad-based consumer perspectives as they create cohesive and sustainable health policy.