HSRI-Developed Tool Rates Highly in Consumer Reports Investigation

Date: 02/2017

This fall, Consumer Reports released the results of an investigation into the quality and usability of cost-estimator tools from New York health insurance companies and related resources. As part of the study, CR also examined eight standalone websites that deliver healthcare cost and quality information to consumers, including CompareMaine, a state-specific tool developed by HSRI’s population health team. Using a combination of consumer user testing and objective scoring criteria, CR rated the standalone websites on ease of use, functionality, content, and scope and reliability. CompareMaine ranked second with 65 points, just one point behind a website that provides national data! (Scores among the eight sites ranged from 22 to 66 points.)

CompareMaine ranked higher than the other tools in Ease of Use—a particularly important category given that consumer testers rated user-friendliness as the most important factor for these tools. CompareMaine also received CR’s highest rating for Scope and Reliability.

Notably, consumers also expressed a preference for cost and quality information to be presented together rather than on different parts of a website—and CompareMaine is one of the few sites that meets this preference.

CR’s recommendations for New York, as outlined in an associated Issue Brief, included the recommendation that the state should “explore ways to provide direct consumer access to provider-level price/value information (for both insured and uninsured patients) through a single comprehensive price transparency website, using data from the All-Payer Database (APD) and other sources, similar to what New Hampshire and Maine do.”

“We are excited to have CompareMaine included in the Consumer Reports review,” said Leanne Candura, director of HSRI’s population health team. “Consumers played a big role in its development, and we worked hard—with them and with our client, the Maine Health Data Organization, and our project partners—to create an easy-to-use tool. We’ve been presenting at national conferences on best practices for conveying cost and quality information to consumers, and we’re working with several states in this regard, helping transform their health datasets into effective decision-support tools.”

CompareMaine flyer screenshot

HSRI led the development of CompareMaine as part of a contract with the Maine Health Data Organization, in partnership with NORC at the University of Chicago and web designer Wowza. Grant funds from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services made the website possible. 

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