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We Can Do Better: New York State Residents Weigh In on Health Care Quality

November 7, 2019

This report explores the views of New York State residents about health care quality, including what they think quality means, what kinds of information about quality they want, whom they want it from, and what they think the state government’s role should be in providing information about quality and in holding doctors and hospitals accountable for quality. Based on a representative survey of 800 adult residents of New York State conducted by Public Agenda and supported by NYSHealth, key findings include the following:

  • New York State residents worry about health care quality nearly as much as they worry about affordability and insurance coverage.
  • 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 the 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.
  • Most residents think the New York State government should monitor doctors’ and hospitals’ quality and hold them accountable for the quality of care they provide.

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Finding 1: New York State residents worry about health care quality nearly as much as they worry about affordability and insurance coverage.

Finding 2: New York State residents think high-quality health care is characterized by a variety of attributes, including effective treatments and procedures, clear communication and respect. About two-thirds of state residents think doctors vary in quality and about two-thirds think hospitals vary in quality.

Finding 3: Only about one-third of New York State residents think there is enough publicly available information about the quality of doctors’ or hospitals’ care. Most of them say that information about effectiveness and error rates would help them identify high-quality doctors and hospitals. Yet just over half of state residents think it would actually be easy to find out whether a specific doctor or hospital provides high-quality care.

Finding 4: Actual patients are the source that the most New York State residents would trust if they wanted to find out about the quality of a doctor’s or hospital’s care. Fewer would trust the state government. Yet most think the state government should provide information about the quality of every doctor’s and hospital’s care. Most residents say doctors should discuss health care quality with patients.

Finding 5: New York State government should monitor doctors’ and hospitals’ quality and hold them accountable for the quality of their care, most state residents believe. Most also believe that both the state government and health insurers should provide the public with information about the quality of every doctor and hospital.

Recommendations and ideas for future research based on these findings include the following:

  • Connect patients with each other and with hard data so that they can find out about the quality of doctors’ and hospitals’ care.
  • Give doctors and other health care professionals the tools and training they need to discuss quality with patients.
  • New York State government could build public trust by providing people with information about health care quality that is relevant to them in ways they can understand.
  • Insurers should provide people with information about quality and help them figure out how to use it.
  • Provide people with information about the quality of individual doctors’ and hospitals’ care—and do so in a way that productively engages health care providers.
  • Develop ways to measure and disclose information about doctors’ and hospitals’ communication skills, courtesy and respect.
  • Explore what members of the public think about various approaches to quality improvement and accountability.
  • Explore what members of the public think about hospitals’ evolving roles in health, health care, community life and local economies.

 

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