March 2016 Newsletter

To begin with some good news: I'm pleased to let you know that our hospital Ratings, which are focused on improving quality and safety, are now free for all consumers. By making our Ratings public, consumers will have access to valuable information to help them make more informed decisions and advocate for necessary reforms, leading to hospital changes that will reduce medical harm.

In more sobering news, our most recent analysis of hospital infection data, based on our updated Ratings of more than 3,200 hospitals across the country, show that many are doing a poor job of reining in the infections. Overall, about a third of them received a low Rating in combating infections. That means they have C. diff infection rates that are worse than the national benchmark. That includes 24 of the nation's largest teaching hospitals. Consumer Reports' release came in conjunction with a CDC press conference about antibiotic resistance, which included comments from Tom Frieden, M.D., CDC director, and Peter Pronovost, M.D., from Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Meanwhile, our Health Ratings team has completed work on a multi-year effort in conjunction with several Regional Health Improvement Collaboratives to report on the performance of physician groups in eight regions. See below for details of this impressive effort.

Consumer Reports has also been looking at the impact of the big-data revolution on personal health data. We brought that topic to the stage in front of an engaged audience of technology, culture, media, and healthcare experts and enthusiasts at the SXSW Interactive festival in Austin. In a fascinating panel, "What's Our Health Data Worth?," Lucia Savage, Chief Privacy Officer at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, Lygeia Ricciardi, former Director of the Office of Consumer eHealth at ONC, and Sally Okun, Vice President at Patients Like Me, talked with Consumer Reports' Teresa Carr about the tension between our intrinsic desire for privacy versus the potential benefits and the pitfalls of greater access and data sharing. (For more details, take a look at this Consumer Reports blog).

Now we are working on plans for our next event: Spotlight Health, a segment of the Aspen Ideas Festival. Consumer Reports will be joining conversations about some of our priority issues in health -- from increasing patient safety to lowering healthcare costs -- and we hope to see some of our partners and friends there. Let us know if you'll be attending or want to find out more!
Tara Montgomery
Senior Director, Health Impact

CR rates doctor groups in eight regions
With its May issue, available on March 29, Consumer Reports unveils Ratings of primary care physicians. The project was made possible through a collaboration with MN Community Measurement to rate doctor groups in eight regions throughout the United States. Those regions include California, Massachusetts, Maine, Minnesota, Washington, Wisconsin, and the greater Columbus, Ohio, and Detroit, Mich., areas.  The Ratings give consumers a rare window into how their doctors provide evidence-based care for common health problems. "These regions all deserve credit for pushing for this effort, as do practices that have agreed to share the information -- especially those who may not do so well," says John Santa, M.D., a medical consultant for Consumer Reports.  

New fact sheets on common conditions
In a new initiative to broaden our dissemination of Best Buy Drugs recommendations, Consumer Reports has recently teamed up with the National Center for Farmworker Health to produce lower-literacy fact sheets on common conditions.  There are 16 fact sheets in both English and Spanish.  We encourage partners to link to the individual items (no formal agreement is required). If you'd like to post the content on your site, we'll work with you on a simple agreement to do so (we promise to keep the paperwork to a minimum).
Free copies of the 5 Questions card
Interested in handing out our "5 Questions" wallet card to your patients, members, fellow clinicians, and other community members? If so, we'd be happy to send you up to 500 of them in English and/or Spanish. Just let us know where to send them, and please include a sentence or two about how you'll use them.

Added bonus: Want to be featured by Consumer Reports via social media? Send us a picture of yourself -- or others -- holding up the wallet card, along with the person's name and Twitter handle, if applicable. Then, watch for us to tag you online!

What's new in the brochure warehouse?
Our catalog of free consumer health materials just keeps growing. We have about 500 resources on the Consumer Health Choices site, from Choosing Wisely, Best Buy Drugs and other campaigns, with more materials added every week. How can you keep up with the new arrivals? One way is to bookmark this link to our Recent Additions page. That way you can see right away whether we've published a new topic that is important to your audience.

Support our work
Knowing that you're a fan of Consumer Reports Health, we'd like to invite you to make a charitable contribution. Your contribution will help us remain a leading voice in championing consumers' access to high-quality health care. We hope you'll find it's a cause worthy of your support.

You can easily donate online or email us at healthimpac[email protected] if
you have questions.

In the news
New York Times: How to Stop Overprescribing Antibiotics 

Today's Hospitalist: Choosing Wisely in the Real World: Are Recommendations Grabbing Doctors' Attention?

Bangor Daily News: We Don't Have to Accept That Health Care can be a Crapshoot