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Consumer-Centric Evaluation of Health Care Price and Quality Transparency Tools

A Checklist for Advocates, Tool Designers and Policymakers

Altarum’s Consumer-Centric Evaluation of Health Care Price and Quality Transparency Tools report1 shows that the numerous public-facing health care price and quality transparency tools in the U.S. lack uniformity in design and functionality. Even efforts to score these tools lack consensus on the most important attributes.[2]

This checklist provides a rubric for evaluating transparency tools based on the qualities that are important to consumers, as identified in Altarum’s study. This online version of the checklist contains links showing that these desired attributes are strongly supported by other research.

Home Page Design:

  •   Visually pleasing home page (i.e., updated look and design)
  •   Clear “next step” to find data (e.g., a big yellow button)
  •   Search box to find information
  •   Minimal additional information to distract from next step

 

Data Elements Most Desired:

  •   Physician-specific data[3]
  •   Doctor and facility location and contact information[4]
  •    Information on appointment availability[5]
  •    Information on insurances accepted by provider[6]
  •    Provider credentials[7]
  •    Information on provider “friendliness” (e.g., provider photos, user reviews, patient satisfaction data) [8],[9]
  •    Cost and quality data presented side-by-side

 

Clarity of Data:

  •    Clear distinction between total price and out-of-pocket cost[10]
  •    Visual ratings (stars, colors, etc.) for patient experience[11]

 

Accessibility:

  •   Easy to find online[12]
  •   Accessible on mobile devices[13]

 

Other attributes cited by prior scoring efforts, while not specifically surfaced by consumers in Altarum’s study, appear to be important. These include being accessible for non-English speakers and disabled persons; a broad, complete set of providers and procedures; being free and widely accessible to consumers; and having timely, reliable data that comes from a reputable source.

For more information: https://altarum.org/publications/consumer-centric-evaluation-healthcare-price-and-quality-transparency-tools



[2] See Appendix A of the 2019 Altarum report for list of prior scoring efforts from Altarum, Consumer Reports, NYSHealth and Healthcare for All Massachusetts and comparison of the attributes scored in each exercise.  Note: All prior scoring efforts considered the general attribute “ease of use” to be important, even additional specifics were not included.

[3] Altarum’s Right Place, Right Time report found that consumers are more likely to value reviews of providers rather than reviews of facilities. See: Duke, Christopher, et al., Right Place, Right Time, Altarum, Washington, D.C. (Jan. 2017). https://altarum.org/sites/default/files/uploaded-publication-files/RPRT%20Executive-Summary.pdf

[4] According to Healthgrades’ American Hospital Quality Outcomes 2014: Report to the Nation, consumers who had selected a physician in the past three years were more concerned about convenient location (62%) and friendly office staff (56%) than success rates (22%). See: https://www.healthcaresuccess.com/blog/hospital-marketing/6-10-people-choose-doctor-based-convenient-location.html and https://www.infographicsarchive.com/health-beauty-safety/2014-healthgrades-american-hospital-quality-report-nation/

[5] Altarum’s Right Place, Right Time report found that consumers desire easy online booking, in addition to easy comparisons of procedures/facilities and plain language explanations. See: Duke et al. (January 2017).

[6] Altarum’s Right Place, Right Time report found that having more doctors covered by their insurance is a top priority for consumers. See: Duke et al. (January 2017).

[7] Surveys have shown that patients prefer to see a physician over other practitioners, although this preference is secondary to convenience (ex. ability to see a provider sooner rather than later). See: Yakovenko, Anna, MD or AP: Do Patients Care?, Advisory Board Company, Washington, D.C. (April 23, 2014). https://www.advisory.com/research/market-innovation-center/the-growth-channel/2014/04/md-or-ap-do-patients-care

[8] Altarum’s Right Place, Right Time report found that consumers rely on physician photos to assess the friendliness of the doctor. Additionally, consumers consider provider respect and shared decision making to be just as important as a doctor’s professional skill. See: Duke et al. (January 2017).

[9] Altarum’s Right Place, Right Time report found that 83% of consumers who have used online patient reviews say that it influenced their choice of doctor. See: Duke et al. (January 2017).

[10] Garett (July 2017).

[11] Ibid.

[12] Altarum’s Right Place, Right Time report found that consumers are mostly unaware of cost and quality comparisons of procedures or facilities and rarely search for them but indicate these comparisons would be very useful. See: Duke et al. (January 2017).

[13] Altarum’s Right Place, Right Time report found that many consumers rely on their mobile phones for internet access (especially if they are low-income, young or racial minorities) and that consumers prefer mobile-friendly websites to apps, which they use infrequently. See: Duke et al. (January 2017).