What are best practices for displaying comparative reports on public reporting websites?

Consumers prefer clarity

Alliances provide comparative data to encourage consumers to use it in making health care decisions. We asked consumers to test the public reporting websites of eight Alliances. Here is what we learned about the best ways to display comparative reports. 
 
Use a consistent framework. Reinforce the framework found on the home page by using the same categories throughout the data displays. Test terminology with consumers and define terms within quality score displays. 
 
Explain how to use the information. Guidance might include how to use the data to select a provider or a hospital. “Tips For Getting Quality Care” on Oregon’s homepage provides many helpful resources. 
 
Use clear labeling and proven strategies to display data. Word icons that combine symbols with a descriptive word make it easier for users to identify and understand patterns such as identifying top performers within and across measures. Explain icons and describe how they were derived. 
 
Allow users to limit the number of providers to examine. Help prevent information overload by allowing users to select the type and amount of data to be compared, for example, by provider type or geography. 
 
Provide summary scores. Summary scores combine multiple measures into a single score. They allow quick comparisons across providers and hospitals and potentially across conditions. 
 
Explain why data are missing. Explaining why data are missing improves transparency, thus facilitating an understanding of differences in quality. 
 
Be clear about data sources. To many, using comparative quality data is unchartered territory. Unfamiliarity combined with an inability to identify the data source can result in distrust. Present easy-to-understand information on sources in various places throughout the site. See Oregon’s explanation of the data source at About the scores
 
Provide other information to help with health care decision-making. When making decisions, people consider a variety of factors. When you click a practice name on the Cincinnati website, a profile page appears with information including: office hours, accepting new patients, insurance accepted, languages spoken, etc.