Short Takes On News & Events

Medicare Enhances Doctor-Rating Website

By Jordan Rau

June 27th, 2013, 8:50 AM

Medicare Thursday added new features to its Physician Compare website as it prepares to start including quality data on thousands of doctors.

The federal health care law requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to publish performance data on doctors, including how patients rate them, how well the physicians’ medical interventions succeed and how well they follow clinical guidelines for basic care. The site has been up since 2010, but contained only basic information about doctors and group practices, such as their addresses, specialties and clinical training.

The updated site expands the way people can search for doctors. Along with searching by specialty, patients can now look by body part and medication condition. The site displays a silhouette of a body and users can click on the part for which they are seeking medication attention.

The site also taps into Medicare billing data to more reliably identify the active practice locations of doctors.

CMS expects that next year it will begin adding quality data for group practices as it begins to meet Congress’ mandate that the website provide “a robust and accurate portrayal of a physician’s performance.” CMS has not announced when it will add ratings for individual doctors.

Initial data will come from the Physician Quality Reporting System, which contains metrics for different conditions and specialties. For instance, doctors who treat diabetes patients are evaluated on what percent of their adult patients had a dilated eye exam to look for frequent complications such as glaucoma, cataracts and damage to the blood vessels in the retina that can lead to blindness.

Some of these measures are also to be used when Medicare starts altering the pay of physician groups in January 2015 through another portion of the health care law. This program, named the Physician Value-Based Payment Modifier, will be expanded to cover all doctors starting in 2017.

jrau@kff.org

3 Responses to “Medicare Enhances Doctor-Rating Website”

  1. Star says:

    I have the worst time finding doctors–all the private sites are random and incomplete. Angie’s costs. Yelp is not easy to search. But I would be scared to use this–thinking search would be added to federally collected info on me. I am trying to have as little contact as possible with the feds. My advantage plan sends me horribly intrusive questionnaires–which I toss. If I need medical care, I will get it and then the insurance can pay the doctor. I do not need the health plan to collect info on me and tell the doctor.

  2. Lynn in SC says:

    Most of the data on this site are also available on my state’s board of medical examiner’s website. Not particularly useful or current. It would be helpful to know the date of the information since physician groups are highly unstable these days. I’d also like to know if physician is an independent practitioner or an employee of local hospital/healthcare system. What are the physician’s economic incentives. What about physicians who choose not to participate in Medicare?

    CMS has had this data for 25 years why is it just now releasing this data? PPACA is the trigger but you’d think CMS would have a more sophisticated listing of providers. Maybe we should as the NSA for their files.

  3. Lindsey says:

    Dear Lynn-
    The information that you wish to hold near is already known to not only the feds but the insurance companies. The only group excluded are you and your peers.

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