Hospitals are required to post quality information on-line, but most Ontarians are not looking.
In a July Vector Poll, only 25 per cent of respondents said they were aware of quality information posted on-line. Slightly fewer, 24 per cent, said they looked for hospital information on-line.
Among older users, those more inclined to be using the system, fewer are using these resources. Only 16 per cent of respondents over the age of 55 said they ever looked for information on the website of a hospital in the province.
Among those who have gone on-line, 25 per cent said they found the information hard to understand.
Only 27 per cent of Ontarians said they were aware of Ontario’s wait times website and only 16 per cent said they have visited it to take a look.
While there is support for making information public, more than two of three (68 per cent) Ontarians said it was more important for government to monitor hospitals to make sure they met minimum standards for quality care.
British epidemiologist Richard Lilford warns that on-line comparisons can be dangerous: Lilford says if the public uses online comparisons as report cards on good and bad hospitals it could encourage hospital administrators to turn away patients with the poorest health or the worst chance of recovering. This “may lead to overly aggressive care, which is inhumane and drives up costs.”
The findings are based on interviews conducted July 12-21, 2011 of 1,106 adults across Canada, 502 in Ontario. The Ontario sample error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.