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8 ways healthcare decision-making can be simpler for users.
Comparing healthcare providers is important in order to choose the better organizations and clinicians. This practice is also key to driving their performance improvement through quality and price transparency via various pathways, such as consumer choice and professional reputation and pride.
However, as pointed out in a 2016 National Academy of Medicine article (PDF), “Research has demonstrated that many of the current public reports make it cognitively burdensome for the audience to understand the data.”
The purpose of this article is to point out multiple ways to cognitively unburden users in order to increase adoption of such tools, empower consumer choice and drive improvement more emphatically.
The simplest way to unburden users is to offer a single numeric score, so that a user picks the better score. This is seen in healthcare’s overall star rating, often presented as integers from 1 to 5, unburdening users even more by not wondering what lies beneath, say, an 87.3 rating. Such an approach will work in some cases, but not when users desire, or can benefit from, more specific insights. Another simple option is to preserve one score but let users pick the weights of the factors that compose the score, such as in Rand’s Personalized Hospital Performance Report Card. But this introduces the difficult burden of picking weights. Should I weigh mortality more than safety and these more than effectiveness of care? If so, by how much?
The discussion below will assume a comparison table: A side-by-side comparison of providers (or in the general case, options) arranged in vertical columns, described by one measure or attribute per row. We’ll list, justify and explain the following eight unburdening features.
Christine K. Cassel, M.D., is former president and CEO of the National Quality Forum. Andre Lessa is co-founder of OnlyBoth. Raul Valdes-Perez, Ph.D., is co-founder & CEO of OnlyBoth, which runs the healthcare pricing comparison tool Benchmine.com.
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