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Consumer Research

This section contains findings and recommendations from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) ongoing consumer research effort to help the Agency, its partners, and other stakeholders better understand the information needs and preferences of consumers choosing among a variety of CMS-sponsored health care options, and to improve the way we communicate that information to them.

The research presented in this section is based primarily on information gathered directly from consumers such as people enrolled in Medicare and relatives and friends who help them with their health care decisions.  It is organized by the following consumer research topics.

Please note: This section is currently under construction.  Reports of findings and recommendations from Quality Initiatives Research are currently available.  To access these reports, please select from the left vertical navigation bar.  Reports of findings and recommendations from our Strategic Formative Research and Assessment will become available some time in 2012.

Strategic Formative Research:  This consists of quantitative and qualitative strategic research that is used to inform the development and modification of CMS education and outreach activities.  Strategic formative research enhances our understanding of beneficiary decision-making, key target population segments, and patterns and development of effective campaign messages. 

Assessment:  This consists of quantitative and qualitative research that serves three purposes:  (1) to assess how our communication activities and campaigns are working in the real world, for quality improvement purposes; (2) to ensure the accuracy of information channels, such as 1-800-MEDICARE and State Health Insurance Assistant Programs (SHIPs); and (3) to provide information to inform strategic direction of our communication activities, including knowledge and attitudes about Medicare and specific agency priorities as well as beliefs about Medicare and the Medicare brand.

Quality Initiatives Research:  CMS invests significantly in systems to collect information about the quality of health care offered by health plans, physicians, and institutional providers (such as hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis facilities, and home health agencies).  This quality information is reported on CMS and DHHS Web sites for public accountability; to aid plans, physicians, and providers to improve quality; and to help Medicare beneficiaries and other consumers, and health plans and other purchasers, make informed choices.  In the not-too-distant future, quality data will also be used to differentially reimburse based in part on quality of care.

The "Quality Initiatives Research" presented in this section includes strategic formative research, product testing, and/or assessment research.  This research seeks to improve how CMS portrays and promotes quality, efficiency, and cost information in order to help consumers make informed choices.  It is based primarily on information gathered directly from consumers.  However, additional input is gathered from information intermediaries (e.g., lay caregivers, SHIP counselors, licensed health care professionals, hospital discharge planners). 


Note: A separate section on the CMS Web site contains research findings related to the Consumer Assessment of Health Providers & Systems (CAHPS®) Surveys. To access these findings, please click on the link below.