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Patients’ need for tailored comparative health care information: a qualitative study on choosing a hospital.

Zwijnenberg, N.C., Hendriks, M., Bloemendal, E., Damman, O.C., Jong, J.D. de, Delnoij, D.M.J., Rademakers, J.J.D. Patients’ need for tailored comparative health care information: a qualitative study on choosing a hospital. Journal of Medical Internet Research: 2016, 18(11), e297
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Background
The Internet is increasingly being used to provide patients with information about the quality of care of different health care providers. Although online comparative health care information is widely available internationally, and patients have been shown to be interested in this information, its effect on patients’ decision making is still limited.

Objective
This study aimed to explore patients’ preferences regarding information presentation and their values concerning tailored comparative health care information. Meeting patients’ information presentation needs might increase the perceived relevance and use of the information.

Methods
A total of 38 people participated in 4 focus groups. Comparative health care information about hip and knee replacement surgery was used as a case example. One part of the interview focused on patients’ information presentation preferences, whereas the other part focused on patients’ values of tailored information (ie, showing reviews of patients with comparable demographics). The qualitative data were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using the constant comparative method.

Results
The following themes were deduced from the transcripts: number of health care providers to be presented, order in which providers are presented, relevancy of tailoring patient reviews, and concerns about tailoring. Participants’ preferences differed concerning how many and in which order health care providers must be presented. Most participants had no interest in patient reviews that were shown for specific subgroups based on age, gender, or ethnicity. Concerns of tailoring were related to the representativeness of results and the complexity of information. A need for information about the medical specialist when choosing a hospital was stressed by several participants.

Conclusions
The preferences for how comparative health care information should be presented differ between people. “Information on demand” and information about the medical specialist might be promising ways to increase the relevancy and use of online comparative health care information. Future research should focus on how different groups of people use comparative health care information for different health care choices in real life. (aut. ref.)