[The MMC-CAHPS report] is one of the many other tools or reports that we can use when we are doing things like selecting quality improvement projects....
Similarly, a few participants noted that they would like to link the MMC-CAHPS to specific providers to identify those that require attention or intervention to improve the quality of their services:
To respond to these requests the report released in 2000 provides information about how MMC-CAHPS varied for beneficiaries in vulnerable subgroups such as those who are nonwhite, have less than a high school education, or are frail or disabled.
A final barrier to using the MMC-CAHPS results for quality improvement was competition among Medicare managed care plans.
One recurring theme in the focus groups and interviews was how logistic issues related to report production and distribution impinged upon the effectiveness of the MMC-CAHPS report as an information intervention.
The MMC-CAHPS asks respondents about experiences in the previous six months, and it takes time to validate and analyze the data and produce reports.
The results of extensive focus group research with more than 150 health plan representatives suggest that the MMC-CAHPS reports did increase readers' awareness and knowledge of quality of care and services of Medicare managed care plans.
Second, some participants found that the MMC-CAHPS results were consistent with the findings from internal beneficiary surveys.
While focus group results are not necessarily representative and generalizable, they can help researchers assess participants' perceptions and reactions to an intervention such as the MMC-CAHPS report.
The user feedback obtained in the focus groups and interviews with Medicare managed care plans led to several enhancements to the content, design, and distribution of the MMC-CAHPS report.
To assess the long-term effects of public reports such as MMC-CAHPS additional research will be needed to understand exactly how health plan representatives use the information in their quality-improvement efforts.
The MMC-CAHPS project has major implications for health care policy.