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New York State Residents Call for Government to Monitor Quality of Doctors and Hospitals

November 7, 2019

New report finds New York State residents worry about health care quality, and want state government to hold providers accountable

New York City – New York State residents think the state government should monitor doctors’ and hospitals’ quality; provide information about the quality of doctors’ and hospitals’ care; and hold them accountable for the quality of their care, according to a newly-released report by Public Agenda, a nonpartisan research and public engagement organization. The report, We Can Do Better: New York State Residents Weigh In on Health Care Quality also found that New Yorkers worry about health care quality nearly as much as they worry about affordability and insurance coverage.

“Low-quality health care can have devastating consequences for patients and families,” said David Schleifer, Public Agenda’s director of research. “Most people in New York State believe that information about effectiveness and error rates would help them identify high-quality doctors and hospitals and most see a role for both state government and health insurers in providing that type of information.” 

We Can Do Better: New York State Residents Weigh In on Health Care Quality explores the views of a representative sample of New York State adults not only about the state government’s role in quality transparency and accountability but also about what quality means, what kinds of information about quality they want and who they trust to provide that information. 

Based on a representative survey of 800 adult residents of New York State conducted by Public Agenda and supported by the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth), additional key findings include the following:

  • New York State residents think high-quality health care from a doctor means that diagnoses are correct, treatments are effective and communication is clear, among other attributes. From a hospital, state residents think high-quality care means that treatments are effective, complications and errors are rare and communication is clear, among other attributes.
  • Few state residents think there is enough publicly available information about quality. Most of them say that information about effectiveness and error rates would help them identify high-quality doctors and hospitals.
  • Actual patients are the source that most New York State residents would trust if they wanted to find out about the quality of a specific doctor’s or hospital’s care.
  • While New York State residents have less trust in the state government as a source for finding out about quality, most residents think the state government should provide information about the quality of every doctor and hospital in the state—and that health insurers should provide that information, too.

Currently, New York State is developing its all-payer database (APD), joining more than two dozen other states that have created does not have a centralized systems for quality and payment information across all for measuring quality that encompasses all payers in the state. One of the report’s recommendations is that the state government could build public trust by using the APD to provide the public with information about quality to encourage other entities to use APD data to create quality and price information tools.  

The survey also finds that most New York State residents express support for doctors discussing quality with patients. Therefore, the report also recommends that doctors and other health care professionals have access to the tools and training they need to discuss quality with patients.  

“Better health care quality can improve health outcomes and save money for consumers, providers, purchasers, and payers alike,” said David Sandman, Ph.D., President and CEO of NYSHealth. “Although there are some quality data and resources available, they may not always reflect the measures that matter to patients. This report makes clear the kind of quality information New Yorkers want and who they want it from and acts as a guide for incorporating their needs and interests into transparency efforts.” 

Findings in the report are based on a representative survey of 800 adult New York State residents 18 years and older. The survey was fielded from April 11 through May 11, 2019, by telephone, including cellphones, and online. Respondents completed the survey in English. The survey oversampled residents of rural zip codes in New York State. The final data were weighted to adjust for the oversampling of rural zip codes, to balance the sample to New York State population parameters and to correct for under- or overrepresentation of key demographic groups.

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Public Agenda is a nonpartisan research and public engagement organization dedicated to a healthy, just, and effective democracy. We support informed citizens, engaged communities, and responsive public institutions. We also elevate diverse voices, build common ground and foster equitable progress on the issues at the heart of the American Dream. These include K-12 education, higher education, healthcare, and housing. Find Public Agenda online at PublicAgenda.org, on Facebook at facebook.com/PublicAgenda and on Twitter at @PublicAgenda.