Section 6. Health Care Professionals' Feedback

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

While some sites may target consumers, others may choose a primary target audience of health care professionals. In this section, we review survey data from this group.


Key Findings

Most health care professionals arrive at the Web sites to look at hospital quality information. As Figure 8 shows, most health care professionals (52%) indicated that their primary purpose in visiting the sites was either to see how their hospital was performing or to compare hospitals.

Few health care professionals indicated they were in search of information to use in making a referral for a patient. Overall, only 5 percent of health care professionals indicated that this was their primary purpose. However, on one Web site (which had 56 health care professional survey respondents), 13 percent of health care professionals indicated they had come to make a referral.

There were few physician respondents. As Table 9 shows, overall, only 13 percent of health care professional respondents were physicians. There could be several reasons for this. For example, some public reporting Web sites have a private report that is provided to hospitals, with more technical language and patient-level detail.

Health care professionals recommend giving consumers more information about costs and individual doctors. As Figure 9 shows, health care professionals most frequently recommended providing information on cost of care to patients (17%). In addition, 11 percent recommended providing information about individual doctors.

Health care professionals want more quality information. Health care professionals frequently recommended providing more quality data than is currently available, including providing other quality measures (15%), information about methodology (15%), and more detailed metrics (15%).

Health care professionals had many suggestions for how to improve the Web sites. As Figure 10 shows, health care professionals, like consumers, wanted the sites to be easier to use. Health care professionals most frequently suggested that Web sites require fewer clicks to navigate to performance information (24%) and provide a different way of sorting (20%).


  • For report sponsors who aim to have health care professionals use their sites to make referrals to hospitals, the consumer demographics from this survey might inform those efforts. Health care professionals may be able to direct patients who match the "the most common user profile" for the consumer survey respondents (e.g., college educated, privately insured) to the reports to review hospitals. However, health care professionals may need to access and interpret the reports for other patients who do not match this demographic, including more vulnerable populations.
  • The desire of health care professionals to have more information about methodology and details of quality measurement may conflict with the needs of consumers for sites that are easier to understand. Thus, although many sites seem to be trying to serve both audiences (and many are currently drawing both audiences), Web site sponsors might consider setting up separate Web sites for each audience.
  • Even for most health care professionals, the Web sites are hard to use. Section 7 discusses Web site characteristics that may support health care professional use of the quality information.
Page last reviewed December 2011
Internet Citation: Section 6. Health Care Professionals' Feedback: Users of Public Reports of Hospital Quality: Who, What, Why, and How?. December 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.