Background: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates the release of publicly available consumer reports to highlight differences in quality of care and reduce healthcare disparities. However, little is known about patient perceptions of the value of such reports.
Objective: This study aims to identify whether vulnerable populations with type 2 diabetes perceive consumer reports as helpful in making decisions about diabetes care.
Methods: We conducted a brief demographic survey and qualitative study of 18 focus groups: six each of African American, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic White consumers diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (n = 92). We analysed focus group transcripts to identify recurring themes, which were summarized and compared across population groups.
Results: Participants expressed minimal interest in currently available consumer reports. They instead listed personal referrals and interpersonal interactions among the most important factors when choosing a physician. Further, in place of information to aid in physician selection, participants articulated strong desires for more basic, straightforward disease-specific information that would promote diabetes self-management.
Conclusions: This study's results call into question the value of consumer reports as defined by the ACA. Participants reported little interest in comparative provider performance data. Instead, they were more interested in information to assist in diabetes self-management. This suggests that consumer reports may not be as important a tool to improve outcomes and reduce health disparities as policy makers imagine them to be.