YONKERS, N.Y., May 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today Consumer Reports announced the formation of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center and the addition of Dr. John Santa, M.D., M.P.H., to direct the new center. Consumer Reports seeks to add ratings for hospitals and other health-care providers to its ratings of health related products, treatment options, natural medicines, and drugs. "The new Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center will provide consumers with the trusted information and advice they need at a time when the cost, quality, and safety of health-care have become some of the top issues on Americans' minds. The center will apply the same scientific rigor and expertise to its evaluations of treatments, drugs, and providers that we use to do our comparative tests of cars and cameras. And like all our work, it'll be done in an environment free of ads and conflicts of interest with the consumer as our primary constituency," said Jim Guest, president of Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. The first undertaking of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center is a new web tool, created in conjunction with the Dartmouth Atlas Project, that will allow consumers to compare treatment approaches among hospitals for nine serious chronic conditions. The tool, to be released May 29 at www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org, ranks nearly 3,000 hospitals, revealing sharp contrasts in how much time people with serious chronic conditions spend in the hospital and average out-of-pocket costs. Dr. John Santa served as medical director for Health Projects at the Center for Evidence-based Policy at Oregon Health & Science University from 2003 to 2006. There Dr. Santa helped direct the Drug Effectiveness Review Project, known as DERP, which develops evidence-based reviews that evaluate and compare prescription medications. The DERP drug reviews have been a cornerstone of the Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs project, launched in December, 2004. "Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs is a great example of how the Health Ratings Center will set itself apart in a crowded playing field. First, we choose and carefully vet unbiased sources of clinical data. Second, we know how to translate these data into meaningful, consumer-friendly comparisons that people can use to make important decisions about their health," said Santa. "Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs highlights Consumer Reports' commitment to independence, credibility and transparency, and to a ratings product that will be of real value to consumers," added Santa, noting that Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs is among the first attempts in the U.S. to translate for consumers the detailed findings of a systematic review of scientific evidence. In addition to Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs, which to date has rated drugs across twenty categories, www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org provides ratings on a wide array of healthy living products such as sunscreens and gym equipment, thousands of natural medicines, and treatment options for more than 200 conditions and diseases. Consumers have come to trust Consumer Reports' ratings of thousands of products and services each year for the expertise and independence they represent. The Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center will produce similar ratings tables, selecting the best sources of research to rate health care services, drugs, institutional providers, and eventually physicians and other practitioners. The doctors and other experts at the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center are free of compromising industry relationships and responsive to consumer input from surveys, focus groups, and community activists. (C) Consumers Union 2008. The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports(R) is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To maintain our independence and impartiality, Consumers Union accepts no outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the interests of consumers. Consumers Union supports itself through the sale of our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few noncommercial grants.
SOURCE Consumer Reports