Consumer demand for healthcare information, including data about the performance of healthcare providers, has increased steadily during the past decade. Many state and national initiatives are under way to mandate or induce healthcare organizations to publicly disclose information regarding institutional and physician performance. Mandatory public reporting of healthcare performance is intended to enable stakeholders, including consumers, to make more informed choices on healthcare issues.
Public reporting of healthcare performance information has taken several forms. Healthcare performance reports (report cards and honor rolls) typically describe the outcomes of medical care in terms of mortality, selected complications, or medical errors and, to a lesser extent, economic outcomes. Increasingly, process measures (ie, measurement of adherence to recommended healthcare practices, such as hand hygiene) are being used as an indicator of how well an organization adheres to established standards of practice with the implicit assumption that good processes lead to good healthcare outcomes. National healthcare quality improvement initiatives, notably those of the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Hospital Quality Alliance, use process measures in their public reporting initiatives.