A study of six Web sites that offer hospital comparison information to consumers found those sites may give inconsistent results.
According to a research paper published in the September Archives of Surgery, a Journal of the American Medical Association publication, the various public and private sites use different standards to measure and score quality, which leads to confusing results for consumers who are increasingly turning to the Internet to gather information on hospitals.
The study was conducted by Michael Leonardi and colleagues at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles, who reviewed a total of 846 Web sites before determining that six sites met the criteria for accessibility, transparency and appropriateness of information provided. Those six sites are provided by: the CMS, the Joint Commission, Leapfrog Group, and three unnamed organizations that operate proprietary sites.
The paper also concluded that 113 million Americans searched for health information; of those, 29% searched for information on specific hospitals and physicians. With those numbers expected to increase, the accuracy and timeliness of information is crucial for consumers trying to make informed choices, the researchers said.
In addition to increased quality of data, more timely data are needed, the physicians wrote in their paper. Further work is needed to improve these issues, particularly the accessibility by patients, the quality and type of data reporting, the statistical method, and the criteria by which hospitals and specific operations are compared. -- by Jean DerGurahian
What do you think? Post a comment on this article and share your opinion with other readers. Submit your letter to Modern Healthcare Online at [email protected]. Please be sure to include your hometown and state, along with your organization and title.