This report is a comprehensive summary of a conference entitled Informing Consumers About Health Care Quality: New Directions for Research and Action, held on December 11-12, 2000, in Bethesda, Maryland. The conference was designed to provide a forum for discussing the challenges in and opportunities for improving the communication of health care quality information to consumers. The framework for this discussion was based on the Research and Action Agenda developed by the federally sponsored Work Group on Consumer Health Information. The Research and Action Agenda, summarized in the following Background section, proposes an overall strategic framework to guide both needed research and action in the evolving field of consumer health information.
The overall goal of the December 2000 conference was to identify specific strategies for implementing the priorities highlighted in the Research and Action Agenda as they relate to the following four major consumer sectors:
- Consumers employed in the public and private sectors.
- Older consumers.
- Consumers with special health care needs (e.g., chronic conditions, disabilities).
- Consumers with special communication needs (related to culture and literacy).
To establish a context for understanding current consumer attitudes and views on health care quality issues, the conference also included a presentation on the results of a recent national consumer poll conducted by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). As a complement to the breakout and plenary sessions that centered around the four consumer segments, the conference also included plenary sessions on the following:
- An overview of social marketing and its relevance to educating consumers about quality information.
- Informing consumers about medical errors and safety.
- A case study from the California HealthCare Foundation on putting the Research and Action Agenda into practice.
- A look to the future of consumer information and the American health care system in general.
This report is intended to provide a comprehensive summary of the presentations and discussion that took place at the meeting, and to draw out the implications of the proceedings for implementing the Research and Action Agenda. Following a brief background section that includes a summary of the Research and Action Agenda, the report organizes the proceedings of the conference as outlined below:
- Chapter 1 summarizes the key implications for the Research and Action Agenda that came out of the discussions and presentations that took place at the conference.
- Chapter 2 sets the context by reviewing the results of the recent KFF/AHRQ survey on consumer attitudes toward information on health care quality.
- Chapter 3 focuses on creating the right environment for consumers to use information on quality, including educating and motivating consumers to use such information and developing market conditions (e.g., purchasing strategies) to encourage such use.
- Chapter 4 focuses on implementing the Research and Action Agenda in each of four key consumer segments-the employed population, older consumers, consumers with special health care needs, and consumers with special communication needs.
- Chapter 5 profiles the efforts under way in the California market, with the support of the California HealthCare Foundation, to implement key recommendations within the Research and Action Agenda.
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