The report reviews and discusses information systems reporting on the quality or performance of providers of healthcare ('quality information systems') in seven countries: Denmark, England, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United States. Data collection involves a review of the published and grey literature and is complemented by information provided by key informants in the selected countries using a detailed questionnaire. Quality information systems typically address a number of audiences, including patients (or respectively the general public before receiving services and becoming patients), commissioners, purchasers and regulators. We observe that as the policy context for quality reporting in countries varies, so also does the nature and scope of quality information systems within and between countries. Systems often pursue multiple aims and objectives, which typically are (a) to support patient choice (b) to influence provider behaviour to enhance the quality of care (c) to strengthen transparency of the provider-commissioner relationship and the healthcare system as a whole and (d) to hold healthcare providers and commissioners to account for the quality of care they provide and the purchasing decisions they make. We emphasise that the main users of information systems are the providers themselves as the publication of information provides an incentive for improving the quality of care. Finally, based on the evidence reviewed, we identify a number of considerations for the design of successful quality information systems, such as the clear definition of objectives, ensuring users' accessibility and stakeholder involvement, as well as the need to provide valid, reliable and consistent data.
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Overview of findings