Where to Find Information on Quality
One of the most powerful forces driving improvement in health care is the educated consumer.
Consumers who make informed choices and are engaged in their own care not only experience better health outcomes, they also help reward doctors, hospitals and health plans that deliver better care and service. [i] To make sure you and your family get good quality care, you need to be actively involved in finding and using information that tells about health care quality.
Finding and using information about quality care can help you stay healthy and help you make good decisions about treatment when you need it. Below are resources that tell more about what you can do to help make sure that you and your family are getting good quality care.
Resources for "Quality" Information
www.ahrq.gov – sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Click on “Consumers & Patients” to find information and resources on quality of care, medical errors and patient safety, various clinical conditions, prevention and wellness, prescription medicines, smoking cessation, choosing a health plan, and many other topics. Call the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at 1-800-358-9295.
www.guideline.gov – sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Quality Tools is a clearinghouse of practical, ready-to-use tools for measuring and improving the quality of health care. Information is provided for patients and consumers, health care providers, policymakers, and payers and purchasers.
www.nih.gov – sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the government's primary source for conducting and funding clinical research. This is the main NIH website through which you can access information on many health topics and link to the various Institutes that make up the NIH. These include the National Cancer Institute, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and many others. Click on “Institutes” or search the Web site for your topic.
clinicaltrials.gov – sponsored by the National Institutes of Health provides regularly updated information about federally and privately supported research in human subjects. You can browse the site or enter specific location, condition, or other search topic.
www.medicare.gov – sponsored by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services can help you compare hospitals and nursing homes in your area. Phone 1-800-MEDICARE.
www.healthfinder.gov – sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It offers links to hundreds of sites on the internet that contain reliable health care information. Click on “Health Care” and then “Health Care Quality” for links to many government and nongovernment sources of information on health care quality.
www.jcaho.org – sponsored by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Click on “Quality Check” to locate JCAHO accredited hospitals, assisted living facilities, laboratories, and other types of health care facilities and services in your area. Phone 1-630-792-5000.
www.ncqa.org – sponsored by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Click on “Report Cards” to access a variety of health care quality information, including reports on health care quality, report cards for physicians and health plans and more. Phone 1-888-275-7585.
www.ahqa.org – sponsored by the American Health Quality Association (AHQA). AHQA represents the national network of Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs) that helps physicians, hospitals, health plans, nursing homes and home health agencies improve the quality of care they deliver. QIOs focus on the adoption of best practices to provide safe, effective and patient centered care. Go to www.ahqa.org/quality-improvement-organizations/whats-next-for-qios to locate a QIO near you or find out more about health care quality.
www.nahc.org – sponsored by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice. Click on “Consumers” to located home care, hospice services and other resources in your state. Phone 1-202-547-7424.
www.aaahc.org – sponsored by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care. Click on “Search for Accredited Organizations” to locate outpatient health care services, such as freestanding surgery centers, radiology facilities, podiatrists, pain management clinics and many other types of outpatient facilities accredited by the Association. Phone 1-847-853-6060.
www.ama-assn.org – sponsored by the American Medical Association. Click on “For Patients” to access “DoctorFinder” with information about virtually every licensed physician in the United States , as well as links to other helpful web sites. Phone 1-800-621-8335.
www.docboard.org – sponsored by the National Organization for State Medical and Osteopathic Board Executive Directors. Click on “DocFinder” to access the physician database, which contains information from state government licensing board on the licensing background and disciplinary information of physicians and other health care providers.
www.fsmb.org – sponsored by the Federation of State Medical Boards. The Federation collects information on disciplinary actions taken against physicians by regulatory and licensing agencies, such as state medical boards, the National Board of Medical Examiners, various Federal agencies and other licensing authorities. Click on “Public Access” to search the web site to learn if your physician has any disciplinary history. Phone 1-817-868-4000.
www.naic.org – sponsored by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Click on “Consumer Information Source” and then “Health Insurance” to access information about the different types of health insurance, you rights as a consumer, consumer fact sheets and other information. Phone 1-816-842-3600.
[i] National Committee for Quality Assurance Web site. “The Basics: Public Reporting.“ (assessed Oct. 24, 2008).