National survey examines public opinion of health care provider quality

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released results of a survey which examined the public’s opinion about what it means to be a quality health care provider in the United States.

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the survey included a sample of 1,002 adults aged 18 years and older to a random-digit-dial survey. According to a press release, key findings from the study include:

  • Most Americans define provider quality by how it relates to physician-patient interactions and a physician’s personality traits, rather than the effectiveness of the care provided or the patient’s own health outcomes.
  • Majority of consumers said quality of care provided in the United States would improve if physicians were required to report the effectiveness of their treatments and patient satisfaction with care.
  • Less than a quarter of consumers receive provider quality information and most people are not confident they could find provider quality information they can trust on their own, including direct comparisons of physicians.
  • Americans trust word-of-mouth and personal recommendations from physicians more than provider quality data coming from the government or third parties.
  • A third of Americans reported it is easy to find information they trust related to the costs of provider care, while fewer say it is easy to find data that compared a provider’s cost and quality.
  • About half of Americans believe higher quality health care generally comes at a higher cost, while 37% said there is no real relationship between quality and cost.
  • Despite the fact that more Americans are now insured as a result of the Affordable Care Act, people without health insurance face more challenges in finding information about provider quality and cost. At the same time, they are more likely than the insured to think public reporting of such information would improve the overall quality of care.

“This survey is designed to provide meaningful data on how consumers understand, trust and use the health care information available to them,” Trevor Tompson, vice president for public affairs research for NORC at the University of Chicago and director of the AP-NORC Center, stated in a press release. “This survey provides answers to key questions around Americans’ perceptions of health care quality…The survey also explored whether people think public reporting requirements would improve health care in the United States.”

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