WTF Summer 2018

Do people understand hospital ratings?

By July 24, 2018 No Comments

Do people understand hospital ratings?

Katie Ziemer is an associate research scientist in Ipsos’ Public Affairs Research practice

Zoë Keating asked if patients have ample opportunity to provide feedback to the healthcare system. Her reasons for asking were broad. She was thinking about all of the places where data is collected – in homes, in medical facilities, in chat rooms and online communities – and how to share that back with the healthcare system. And she was thinking of providing feedback from her experiences with care given by his doctors, and the system as a whole, in terms of convenience, cost and communication.

Most hospitals are required to get patient feedback for the U.S. government’s Hospital Compare from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Rating sites like Yelp also allow people to rate their healthcare experience. But does having that data encourage people to make better choices? The answer, according to research we conducted at Ipsos, is sadly, “No, it doesn’t.”

The findings illustrate the need to educate patients on how to use the rankings data. For instance, ratings using a five-star scale were easier to understand than those that ranked hospitals as being, for instance, in the “top 10 percent” or “bottom 25 percent.” In fact, people who demonstrated low understanding of health data were more likely to choose a hospital listed as being in the bottom 10 percent than in the top 10 percent. In other findings, patients said they trust the feedback data the government collects more than they trust Yelp, but were no more likely to use it when making a selection. With both sources of information, patients’ choices tended to be more swayed by negative reviews than positive ones.

This points to a need for better education and explanation of ratings systems so patients have the best data and know how to use it to their advantage when choosing a doctor or hospital system.

July 24, 2018