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Communicating Health Care Quality to U.S. Consumers

They are sitting at the table researching on laptop together.
Helping consumers choose health care providers
  • Client
    Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CCSQ)
  • Dates
    2011 - 2019

From 2011 to 2019, NORC supported the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CCSQ) efforts to publicly report health care quality information. Transparent public reporting of health care quality data drives quality improvement and allows consumers to make more informed decisions about where to seek health care. NORC supported the alignment and improvement of CMS’s eight Compare websites: Dialysis Facility Compare, Home Health Compare, Hospice Compare, Hospital Compare, Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Compare, Long-Term Care Hospital Compare, Nursing Home Compare and Physician Compare.

Under this contract, NORC developed and maintained a strategic plan for the Compare websites which provided a vision for the future of public reporting at CMS. NORC also supported an internal CMS workgroup as it worked towards meeting the goals of the strategic plan. This workgroup was made up of representatives from each of the Compare websites as well as CMS staff that worked across the websites.

NORC collected and analyzed both qualitative and quantitative data related to the use and comprehension of the Compare sites and provided regular reports to CMS.

Examples of NORC data collection efforts include:

  • Conducting focus groups, in-depth interviews, and usability testing to gauge understanding of proposed changes to the websites such as the addition of star ratings.
  • Environmental scanning to understand how the Compare sites are discussed in the literature and media.
  • Marketing scanning to study how health care providers and facilities use CMS Compare site data in marketing efforts.

Using these data, analyses, and reports, NORC developed data visualizations, reports, and recommendations to CMS for how to improve the user experience of health care consumers and other audiences. NORC also used these data to develop and maintain a “blueprint” for CMS public reporting to guide and align the maintenance of the existing Compare websites as well as the development of new websites that were called for in the Affordable Care Act. NORC used our understanding of these data to support CMS’s development of content for the sites themselves as well as communications and outreach to stakeholders about the sites. NORC provided strategic communications counsel for CMS regarding the Compare websites and supported CMS in implementing communications efforts including the development of materials for: blog posts, National Provider Calls, Open Door Forums, Listening Sessions, and response to stakeholder inquires.

NORC also supported the development of the Health Insurance Marketplace Quality Rating System. Beginning in 2016, with the Open Enrollment Period for 2017, Marketplaces are required to prominently display quality rating information for all qualified health plans on their websites to help consumers compare plans. NORC conducted testing of website labels and terminology and provided CMS consultation on broader website design and content.

NORC was the prime contractor from 2011 - 2015 and from 2015 - 2019, served as a subcontractor to Arbor Research.

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