Choosing a Health Plan:

Do Large Employers Use the Data?

November/December 1997
Health Affairs , vol.16, no.6 (November/December 1997): 172-180
Judith Hibbard, Jacquelyn Jewett, Mark W. Legnini, Martin Tusler

ignificant private resources go into the production of various types of performance measures: from patient satisfaction with nonclinical service to clinical outcomes. While recent investigations have focused on the effect of clinical outcomes information on clinical practice, almost no work examines its effect on purchasers’ decisions. This study examines how large employers use performance information, including clinical outcomes, in purchasing decisions. Representatives of thirty-three large employers that purchase for 1.8 million covered lives were interviewed in early 1997. Findings suggest that purchasers are not always aware of clinical outcomes data and that measures do not meet their decision-making needs. Further, the variety and amount of performance information to process for purchasing decisions is a barrier to effective decision-making. Recommendations for supporting purchasers’ use of performance information, especially clinical outcomes data, are included.

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