Our proposed research explores the information needs and preferences of consumers regarding reports of local hospital quality and performance. We focus our exploratory research on understanding how one particularly high-risk, vulnerable population- low-income parents of children with special health care needs - prefer, process, understand, and utilize health information to make appropriate health decisions for their children. Low-income parents of children with special health care needs are frequent consumers of health care services and are thus most in need of actionable, relevant hospital-based healthcare metrics to inform their choices in seeking care for their children. However, current models of reporting health metrics are not tailored to the needs of populations with increased risk of low-health literacy. To this end, we propose two specific aims:
Specific Aim 1 : To establish consumer information needs and preferences as they pertain to hospital-based care using a community-engaged approach. Using purposive samples, we will apply qualitative data collection techniques to identify information needs of low-income parents as they relate to the quality of hospital-based care and produce an "information gap analysis" to identify the data that parents desire relative to currently available data.
Specific Aim 2 : To create and assess consumer-driven hospital metrics for low- income parents of children with special health care needs using a mixed- methods approach. Using AHRQ MONAHRQ software as the foundation, we will develop hospital metrics at Children's National;post them on the DC-HCN portal, and test parent interpretation and intent to use those metrics. Ultimately, all consumers should have ready access to relevant, actionable reports of hospital performance that allow them to make informed decisions about their care based on reliable measures of the quality, cost, and value. Our study will fill knowledge gaps around public reporting and establish an evidence base to inform the content, design, dissemination and use of public reports, and guide the way forward for enhanced reporting practices for a particularly vulnerable population: low-income parents of children with special health care needs.
Our proposed research has strong public health relevance as it focuses on empowering a particular vulnerable population - low-income parents of children with special health care needs - to navigate our complex health delivery system and tests novel ways of communicating complex health information to this vulnerable population. We focus on understanding the information needs of this specific population of parents given the heightened health care needs of their children combined with the high risk of parental poor health literacy. Our work advances public health by engaging consumers in developing useful, actionable information about hospital care that can help guide their health care decisions and, ultimately, increase health equity.