Public Reporting of Hospital Infection Rates: Ranking the States on Report and Website Content, Credibility, and Usability
as published in 183 Studies in Health Technology and Information 87-92 (2013) (Proceedings of 2013 Conference on Information Technology and Communications in Health)
Northwestern University, Institute for Policy Research Working Paper No. 13-06
6 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2013 Last revised: 22 Nov 2014
Date Written: February 18, 2013
Health-care associated infections (“HAIs”) kill about 100,000 people annually; most are preventable, but many hospitals have not aggressively addressed the problem. In response, twenty-five states and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services require public reporting of hospital infection rates for at least some types of infections, and other states and private entities are implementing such reporting. The websites and related reports vary widely in ease of access, ease of use, usefulness of information, timeliness of updates, and credibility. We report on work in progress, in which we assess the quality and suitability of different state websites and reports for different target audiences (ordinary consumers; physicians, and infection control professionals) and the extent to which they meet best practices for online communication, including Stanford’s “Fogg” Guidelines for Web Credibility and user-friendliness metrics developed by other researchers. We find wide variation in quality, and substantial correlation between measures of website credibility and user-friendliness. We identify ways to improve usability, usefulness, and tailoring for information to different target audiences. Our analysis suggests that the “one website (and report format) fits all users” model may not work well in delivering complex, technical information to users with widely varying needs and sophistication.
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