New AHRQ report examines who visits hospital public reporting Web sites and why

Research Activities, February 2012, No. 378

A new AHRQ report of a three-month study of 16 hospital quality-reporting Web sites affiliated with the Chartered Value Exchange program provides evidence about who visits such Web sites and why, and what they think of them. Researchers analyzed:

  1. Responses to AHRQ's new Hospital-Public Report Survey implemented by each site.
  2. Web analytics to determine site usage patterns for visitors across all the sites.
  3. Expert qualitative review of the Web sites.

Among the findings by Naomi S. Bardach, M.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, and her fellow researchers were that consumers—patients and their family members and friends—made up half of all visitors to the sites, and health care professionals—primarily hospital quality managers, nurses and nurse-practitioners, and hospital executives—accounted for almost one-third.

The researchers also found that consumers were roughly equally interested in information about patient experience, complication and error rates, and rates of correct care, and were less interested in survival rates and the cost of care; only 1 in 10 were from minority populations; and two-thirds of all consumer visitors were college graduates. An in-depth expert review of the sites identified many areas for improvements, including: 

  • almost all sites used technical language that is difficult for consumers to understand; 
  • many sites did not allow visitors to select specific hospitals to be compared next to each other; and 
  • most did not use interpretive labels for performance measures (e.g., "better," "average," "worse") to help visitors interpret the information.

Access the report, Users of Public Reports of Hospital Quality: Who, What, Why and How?

Page last reviewed February 2012
Internet Citation: New AHRQ report examines who visits hospital public reporting Web sites and why: Research Activities, February 2012, No. 378. February 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.