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Media Advisory Date: September 3, 1996
Consumers and health professionals think differently about what
constitutes quality of care according to the report issued by the
Oregon Consumer Scorecard Project (OCS Project). The OCS Project,
funded by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR),
examined other scorecard efforts nationwide, and developed and
focus-group tested a number of different formats and presentation
methods in reaching their conclusions.
"In addition to helping Oregon achieve its public health policy
goals, the OCS Project provides a model for other states to
follow in their efforts to develop scorecards," said Clifton R.
Gaus, Sc.D., AHCPR's Administrator. "The Project represents a
significant step forward in designing tools consumers can use to
make more informed choices about their health care needs,
especially consumers in rural areas and persons with significant
chronic health conditions and/or disabilities."
The OCS Project, directed by Pamela Hanes, Ph.D., of the Oregon
Health Policy Institute, revealed that consumers judge health
plans, and health professionals and facilities, on the basis of
very personal measures, such as how they gain access to specialty
care for acute and/or chronic conditions. However, professionals
use population-based performance measures in judging quality of
care, such as outcomes of cancer treatment over time, and growth
and development indicators for children.
These kinds of measures currently have little meaning to most
consumers, yet their potential to shape quality of care and hold
health plans accountable is great.
Among the Project's other major findings:
- Consumers prefer having a variety of formats for reviewing
information about health care plans and providers, but printed
scorecards should always be available because of their lower cost
and ease of distribution.
- Regardless of the scorecard format, consumers need access to
a "personal guide," a trained, knowledgeable individual who can
assist consumers with scorecard information.
- Consumers expressed a strong desire for information that
describes the health plans in the consumers' own geographic area,
as opposed to information that evaluates plans throughout the
- Consumers are savvy about marketing and hype, and what they
want is information that presents the real differences between
- Health plans face a "data burden" that is costly and could be
relieved by establishing uniform standards that all health plans
and purchasers abide by. These standards would need to be
independently audited to assure compliance with data
The OCS Project was carried out through AHCPR's regional Rural
Center at the University of Washington and Oregon Health Sciences
The Project was conducted on behalf of the Oregon Consumer
Scorecard Consortium, a public-private partnership created to
develop a reliable source of health plan information for
consumers. The final report can be obtained free of charge from
the AHCPR Publications Clearinghouse, by calling 1-800-358-9295,
and requesting publication number 96-N027.
The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research sponsors research
designed to improve the quality of health care, reduce costs and
broaden access to essential services.