Objective: To investigate the impact of the HCAHPS report of patient experiences and word-of-mouth narratives on consumers' hospital choice.
Data sources: Online consumer research panel of U.S. adults ages 18 and older.
Study design/data collection/extraction methods: In an experiment, 309 consumers were randomly assigned to see positive or negative information about a hospital in two modalities: HCAHPS graphs and a relative's narrative e-mail. Then they indicated their intentions to choose the hospital for elective surgery.
Principal findings: A simple, one-paragraph e-mail and 10 HCAHPS graphs had similar impacts on consumers' hospital choice. When information was inconsistent between the HCAHPS data and e-mail narrative, one modality attenuated the other's effect on hospital choice.
Conclusions: The findings illustrate the power of anecdotal narratives, suggesting that policy makers should consider how HCAHPS data can be affected by word-of-mouth communication.
© Health Research and Educational Trust.