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Study Finds Consumers Choose High-Value Health Care Providers When Given Good Cost and Quality Information

Electronic Newsletter, Issue 338

The AHRQ Electronic Newsletter is issued periodically and summarizes Agency research and programmatic activities.

March 13, 2012

AHRQ News and Numbers

The readmission rate following a hospital stay for a chronic condition such as congestive heart failure or diabetes can be substantially higher than for an acute condition like pneumonia or a heart attack. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Statistical Brief #127: 30-Day Readmissions following Hospitalizations for Chronic vs. Acute Conditions, 2008.]

Today's Headlines

  1. Study finds consumers choose high-value health care providers when given good cost and quality information
  2. AHRQ releases early evidence on the patient-centered medical home
  3. Insufficient evidence to support fecal DNA testing in screening for colorectal cancer in average risk adults
  4. Patients with diabetes who undergo bariatric surgery do not have lower health care costs
  5. Register for AHRQ's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project webinar series
  6. AHRQ offers HCUP Data Users' Workshop on April 25
  7. AHRQ in the professional literature

1. Study Finds Consumers Choose High-Value Health Care Providers When Given Good Cost and Quality Information

When consumers are asked to choose a health care provider based only on cost, they select the more expensive option because they equate higher cost with better quality, a new study finds. However, higher costs may indicate unnecessary or inefficient services, so cost information alone does not help consumers get the best value for their health care dollar. The study, "An Experiment Shows That a Well-Designed Report on Costs and Quality Can Help Consumers Choose High-Value Health Care," found that when consumers were shown the right mix of cost and quality information, they were better able to choose high-value health providers. Select to read our press release. Select to access the abstract on PubMed.® This study is one of three in the March 5 issue of Health Affairs that were commissioned by AHRQ. The others are:

  • "How Report Cards on Physicians, Physician Groups, and Hospitals Can Have Greater Impact on Consumer Choices," examines why public report cards that grade health care providers have not had more impact on consumer choices. Researchers interviewed experts from the field of public reporting and found that most public report cards are not user-friendly nor are they connected to consumer decisions about providers. Select to access the abstract on PubMed.®
  • "Multistakeholder Regional Collaboratives Have Been Key Drivers Of Public Reporting, But Now Face Challenges" finds that multi-stakeholder regional collaboratives have assumed a prominent role in producing public reports on the quality of care from health providers. The study examined eight regional collaboratives that have made significant contributions to public reporting and have been successful in building trust and cooperation among diverse stakeholders. Select to access the abstract on PubMed.®

Copies of the reprints are available by sending an e-mail to

2. AHRQ Releases Early Evidence on the Patient-Centered Medical Home

A new white paper from AHRQ, Early Evidence on the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH), offers concrete suggestions for improving the evidence base about the PCMH through more rigorous evaluations. It was prepared in collaboration with Mathematica Policy Research and also summarizes findings from early evaluations of the PCMH. The American Journal of Managed Care recently published a concise version of the paper. An expanded version of the white paper that provides extensive methodological details will be released in late spring 2012. Resources are included in the white paper to help strengthen future research on the PCMH and build a solid evidence base. Resources include a brief for decision makers, titled Improving Evaluations of the Medical Home, which describes the importance of effective evaluations of the PCMH and how they can be achieved. A second resource, Building the Evidence Base for the Medical Home: What Sample and Sample Size Do Studies Need?, provides further information about why evaluations of the medical home should account for clustering of patients within practices, how this can be achieved, and how large patient and practice samples should be to achieve adequate statistical power. Select to access these resources. A copy of the reprint article, Early Evaluations of the Medical Home: Building on a Promising Start is available by sending an e-mail to

3. Insufficient Evidence to Support Fecal DNA Testing in Colorectal Cancer Screening in Average Risk Adults

Insufficient evidence currently exists to support the use of fecal DNA tests to accurately screen adults at average risk and who show no symptoms for colorectal cancer, a new review from AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program finds. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women, and screening rates of the cancer are poor. The review, Fecal DNA Testing in Screening for Colorectal Cancer in Average Risk Adults, calls for further research about the effectiveness of fecal DNA testing, especially given recent scientific advances in this area. Further research on the accuracy of, as well as acceptability and adherence to, fecal DNA testing compared to other stool-based screening tests is needed.

4. Patients with Diabetes Who Undergo Bariatric Surgery Do Not Have Lower Health Care Costs

Six years following bariatric surgery, individuals with type 2 diabetes did not have lower health care costs than they had before surgery, a research report from AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program has found. These patients did, however, have fewer primary care visits in the years following surgery. The findings were based on health insurance data of 7,806 patients with type 2 diabetes who underwent bariatric surgery. An article detailing the research, Impact of Bariatric Surgery on Healthcare Utilization and Costs among Patients with Diabetes, was featured in the January issue of Medical Care. Select to access the abstract abstract on PubMed.®


5. Register for AHRQ's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Webinar Series

AHRQ is hosting a two-part webinar series on April 11 and April 18 on the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) databases, product, and tools. The first one-hour session, on April 11 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET, introduces HCUP databases and related resources. Health services and policy researchers can learn how HCUP can enhance their research studies. The second one-hour session, on April 18 from 2;00 to 3;00 p.m. ET, introduces HCUP products and tools that facilitate research, with particular emphasis on HCUPnet, the free online data query system. Separate registration for each webinar is required. Registration closes April 6 or when maximum capacity is reached. Select to register.

6. AHRQ Offers HCUP Data Users' Workshop on April 25 — Registration Now Open

Registration is now open for AHRQ's one-day instructor-led workshop on the use of Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) databases and software tools for health services research. The curriculum includes instruction and hands-on experience conducting revisit analyses with HCUP State data. The workshop is targeted at intermediate-level data users or people already familiar with HCUP. Prior experience with HCUP databases or prior attendance of an HCUP overview presentation, webinar or online course is encouraged. Computers will be provided and programming examples presented in SAS. HCUP is a family of health care databases, software tools, research publications, and support services created through a Federal-State-Industry partnership. HCUP is used for a broad range of health services research and policy issues at the national, State, and local market levels, including cost and quality of health services, medical practice patterns, access to health care, and outcomes of treatments. The workshop takes place Wednesday April 25 at the AHRQ Conference Center in Rockville, MD. There is no charge to attend, but registration is required. Early registration is encouraged because the workshop fills quickly. Select to register.

7. AHRQ in the Professional Literature

We are providing the following hyperlinks to journal abstracts through PubMed® for your convenience. Unfortunately, some of you may not be able to access the abstracts because of firewalls or specific settings on your individual computer systems. If you are having problems, you should ask your technical support staff for possible remedies.

Jean-Jacques M, Persell SD, Hasnain-Wynia R, et al. The implications of using adjusted versus unadjusted methods to measure health care disparities at the practice level. Am J Med Qual 2011 Nov; 26(6):491-501. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Beasley JW, Wetterneck TB, Temte J, et al. Information chaos in primary care: implications for physician performance and patient safety. J Am Board Fam Med 2011 Nov; 24(6):745-51. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Ash JS, Sittig DF, Wright A, et al. Clinical decision support in small community practice settings: a case study. J Am Med Inform Assoc 2011 Nov 1; 18(6):879-82. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

DeVoe JE, Wallace L, Selph S, et al. Comparing type of health insurance among low-income children: a mixed-methods study from Oregon. Matern Child Health J 2011 Nov; 15(8):1238-48. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Cherepanov D, Palta M, Fryback DG, et al. Gender differences in multiple underlying dimensions of health-related quality of life are associated with sociodemographic and socioeconomic status. Med Care 2011 Nov; 49(11):1021-30. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

Please address comments and questions regarding the AHRQ Electronic Newsletter to Nancy Comfort at or (301) 427-1866.

If you have questions about AHRQ's activities, please try to find the answers by checking our Home Page, where we have established links to various topical areas. Also check the News & Information section and Frequently Asked Questions. You may also Browse the Web Site. These features are designed to assist you in obtaining the information you are seeking.

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Page last reviewed October 2014
Internet Citation: Study Finds Consumers Choose High-Value Health Care Providers When Given Good Cost and Quality Information: Electronic Newsletter, Issue 338. October 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


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