Ryan Theis, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Health Outcomes & Policy, is the lead author of the paper “Defining ‘Quality’ from the Patient’s Perspective: Findings from Focus Groups with Medicaid Beneficiaries and Implications for Public Reporting,” which has been accepted for publication in Health Expectations.
“Many states are adopting ‘report cards’ that compare the quality of Medicaid health plans available to new enrollees,” Theis said. “As a result, there has been an increased need to find out what is important to patients when evaluating health plans, providers, and how to assist patients experiencing barriers to service.”
The study examined the process that women in Medicaid follow for selecting health plans and explored their definitions of ‘good’ and ‘poor’ quality service. Theis and his team found that patients emphasized both interpersonal aspects of care, such as provider respect and communication, and structural aspects, such as benefits and timeliness. The focus groups also showed ways in which patients perceived these domains in relation to one another. Respect and attentiveness from providers leads to better communication in clinical encounters, which in turn leads to better patient confidence in providers’ diagnoses and more equitable decision-making for treatment.
“Selecting a Medicaid health plan can be difficult for new enrollees, given the volume and complexity of information used to compare quality across plans,” Theis said. “In understanding how Medicaid members define ‘health care quality,’ this study allowed us to develop Medicaid health plan report cards that are more accessible to members and that reflect aspects of quality that are most important to them.”
Other authors include Jevetta C. Stanford , Ed.D.; J. Robyn Goodman, Ph.D., associate chair and professor in the Department of Advertising at the UF College of Journalism and Communications; Lisa L. Duke, Ph.D.; and Elizabeth A. Shenkman, Ph.D., department chair and professor in the Department of Health Outcomes & Policy.