The Affordable Care Act has called for a federal ranking of doctors, but the fledgling system has created some controversy.
Not All Doctors Included
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are supposed to provide data about physician quality, but so far the site has only limited data.
So far, the comparison site only includes 66 group practices out of tens of thousands of group practices in the U.S. It also only covers 141 accountable care organizations (ACO) out of a possible 600. ACOs are partnerships between doctors and hospitals. CMS says it is using a “phased approach for public reporting to make sure the data are accurate.”
Critics suggest the medical industry is trying to slow the process. One patient safety advocate said, “AMA is doing everything in its power to stop transparency . . . in an effort to protect its physician interests.”
Ratings for Doctors?
The CMS is planning to beef up the information provided on the site. It will add additional quality measures and data about patient experience to ACO ratings this fall.
The American Medical Association has complained about the ratings site. The AMA argues that it is full of issues and the AMA is against the concept of star ratings for physicians. In a comment submitted to the CMS in August, the doctor lobby group wrote:
“Star rankings or similar systems that display disparate quality scores in a simplified graphic result in distorted, inappropriate distinctions of quality for physicians whose performance scores are not statistically different.”
One doctor told USA Today that the way the site reads now, only another physician would understand how to interpret the ratings. He said, “The goal of these sites is for the average Medicare beneficiary to go out and make an intelligent choice.”
The concept of having a rating system for doctors could be very useful now that consumers are selecting insurance packages on state or federal exchanges. If they have to switch to coverage that doesn’t include their current doctors, many people will suddenly be in the market to find new ones.
The site can be accessed at the CMS site (Medicare.gov) and then select “Physician compare”. The site states, “At this time you can compare group practices on Physician Compare. You’ll be able to compare individual physicians and other healthcare professionals in the future.”