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MONAHRQ Consumer Website

Adapting an "insider" health care website for the general public

The Challenge

All hospitals are not the same - and one of the goals of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is to make information about hospitals, nursing homes, and doctors available to the general public to inform important health care decisions.

Our partner, Pantheon, is the nationally recognized leader in helping to develop systems and sites for public reporting of healthcare data. AHRQ contracted with Pantheon to help fulfill its public reporting goals and Pantheon turned to us to provide expertise in developing consumer-oriented, leading edge user experiences.

AHRQ created and maintains the MONAHRQ desktop application which enables state agencies and other local organizations to quickly and easily create a health care reporting websites. The generated website gives the organizations the ability to publish quality reporting data via a website template and have it available to the general public and healthcare professionals. Users can visit the site to compare providers against quality ratings for a range of health topics such as childbirth, infections, nursing care, and heart failure.

The MONAHRQ application first launched in 2011 and AHRQ continues to improve the application based on ongoing user feedback. One goal that evolved over time was to create a unique experience for consumers, separate from the professional audiences, that would pair the rich and powerful data with visuals and content meant specifically for the general public.

The Solution

We worked with the Pantheon team to architect and design a consumer-centric website with the following goals in mind:

  • Rethink the flow of information to be exceptionally easy to use for a wide range of users.
  • Reimagine the display of complex, comparative data for a less technical audience.
  • Explore and implement a more contemporary look and feel, while still providing state and local entities with the ability to modify the color palette and include their organization’s logo in key areas
  • Review and selectively rewrite topic and quality rating labels to ensure immediate comprehension by the general public
  • Create a new section that gives users instructions on how to use the site

An important part of the effort also included a site-wide audit and remediation phase for 508 compliance, a requirement of government websites, to ensure that people with disabilities have full access to the site.

A series of screens for the new Monarhq consumer website, focused on a comparison of facilities on different metrics related to heart failure.

The Result

Since Pantheon began working on the public-MONAHRQ based websites in 2012, the program has expanded from 5 states to at least 16 states with over 100 million residents, greatly advancing the goals of transparency and value in our health care system.

We are continuing to make enhancements to the Consumer site based on feedback from Pantheon and AHRQ via on-going user testing. One main area of focus in the last year was adding a Safe Surgery infographic to help users understand the importance of evaluating options before deciding on a provider to conduct a surgery.

The infographic was extremely well-received by consumers who said the friendly fonts and graphics paired with straightforward, high-impact statistics and tips made them feel empowered to seek further information about surgical safety and to ask questions of their providers. We are now starting to work on infographics for other health topics featured in the MONAHRQ application to give all users the added benefit of meaningful educational material before digging into the comparative reports.

Additional Case Studies