The Role of Quality Transparency in Health Care: Challenges and Potential Solutions

The practice of measuring and publicly reporting clinical outcomes is known as “public reporting” and has been on the rise around the world. For example, the UK prime minister pledged in 2011 that the National Health Service would make outcome data publicly available, emphasizing, “Information is power, and by sharing it, we can deliver modern, personalized, and sustainable public services.”

The immediate promise of using public reporting to increase quality transparency is that it will enable consumers to choose the providers best suited to their needs and thereby lead to improved patient outcomes and welfare. Unfortunately, however, early empirical findings failed to detect such anticipated benefits from public reporting. For example, studies have indicated that the launch of the Hospital Comparewebsite and other efforts aimed at increasing quality transparency have not resulted in improved outcomes.

This lack of benefits raises two important questions : (1) why haven’t public reporting efforts been effective in improving outcomes and (2) what can policy makers do to make such efforts more effective in the future? […]