Journal Article

Reporting quality of nursing home care to consumers: the Maryland experience


in International Journal for Quality in Health Care

Published on behalf of International Society for Quality in Health Care

Volume 15, issue 2, pages 169-177
Published in print March 2003 | ISSN: 1353-4505
Published online March 2003 | e-ISSN: 1464-3677 | DOI:
Reporting quality of nursing home care to consumers: the Maryland experience

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Objective. To design and implement a reporting system for quality of long-term care to empower consumers and to create incentives for quality improvement. To identify a model to approach this technically and politically difficult task.

Approach. Establishment of a credible and transparent decision process using a public forum. Development of the system based on: (1) review of the literature and existing systems, and discussions with stakeholders about strengths and weaknesses; (2) focus on consumer preferences in the design; and (3) responsiveness to industry concerns in the implementation.

Lessons learned. None of the existing systems appeared to be a suitable model. We decided to develop an entirely new system based on three key design principles that allowed us to tailor the system to consumer needs: (1) designing a decision tool rather than a database; (2) summarizing rather than simplifying information; and (3) accounting for the target audience in the creative execution. Industry concerns focused on the burden of the system, the potential for errors, and the possible communication of a negative impression of the industry. As methodological and data limitations prevented us from resolving those concerns, we addressed them by using cautionary language in the presentation and by making a commitment to incorporate improvements in the future. All stakeholders regarded the final design as an acceptable compromise.

Conclusions. Despite its potentially controversial nature and many methodological challenges, the system has been well received by both the public and the industry. We attribute this success to two key factors: a collaborative decision process, in which all critical design and execution choices were laid out explicitly and debated with stakeholders in a public forum, and realism and honesty regarding the limitations of the system.

Keywords: nursing home; performance measurement; public accountability; public reporting; quality indicators; report cards

Journal Article.  4185 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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