"The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through." -- Sydney J. Harris

Minnesotans More Aware of Provider Quality Rankings than Most States

A study released by Penn State University and published in this month’s American Journal of Managed Care indicates chronically ill patients in Minnesota are more aware of the comparable quality rankings on than patients in most other states — but awareness still stands at only about 22 percent.

Researchers evaluated awareness of comparative doctor and hospitals performance reports among chronically ill patients in 2008 and again in 2012. Despite significant growth nationally in the number and type of reports available, “there was no significant change in public awareness of hospital quality reports… [and] a moderate change in awareness of physician quality reports,” according to the study.

“The upward trend in awareness is encouraging given the considerable effort we have put into making this information transparent and available,” said Jim Chase, MNCM President. “But while Minnesota is higher than much of the country, the fact that only about one-quarter of chronically ill Minnesotans are aware of the quality information available on shows much work remains to achieve the level of consumer activation and engagement we seek.”

The number of hospital and physician quality ratings available nationally increased from 76 to 87 during the four year period evaluated. However, a random survey of nearly 12,000 chronically ill patients nationally showed only a modest increase in awareness of physician ratings – from 12.8 percent to 16.2 percent – and a less than one percentage point increase in awareness of hospital ratings.

“There is a large focus on producing these reports with the right intention of getting consumers more engaged,” according to Dennis Scanlon, director of the Center for Health Care and Policy Research at Penn State University and co-author of the study. “But I think the evidence suggests we still have a lot of work to do.”

Six regions with Aligning Forces for Quality sites, including Minnesota, showed statistically significant increases in regional awareness. In Minnesota, awareness of physician quality ratings amongst chronically ill patients increased from 14.4 percent in 2008 to 22.10 percent in 2012. This was the second largest increase of any region evaluated. However, awareness of hospital ratings in Minnesota actually decreased during that same period.

Additionally, awareness varied by type of chronic illness — suggesting awareness efforts may be having more success with certain communities. For example, awareness increased 11.45 percentage points amongst Minnesota patients with depression and 5.37 percentage points amongst Minnesota patients with diabetes during the four-year period.

Read the full study, “Are Healthcare Quality Reports Cards Reaching Consumers?,” published in the March 2015 issue of The American Journal of Managed Care.