June 28, 2013
Access to Healthcare Data and Rankings to Begin
Internet reviews and rankings have pervaded every imaginable service provider, and healthcare is no exception. Just yesterday, Medicare added new features to its site, which indicates a new beginning on their mission to cull and rank data on thousands of doctors and healthcare professionals nationwide. Initial data will come from the Physician Quality Reporting System, which provides metrics for various conditions and specialties.
Federal health care law requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicade 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,” according to a report on the AARP blog.
The new site offers comprehensive ways to search for doctors, including by speciality, as well ask by body part and medication condition. Akin to the WebMD Symptom Checker, the site displays a diagram of a body, enabling users to pick a body part for which they require medical attention.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services expects the site to begin adding “quality data” by next year. It will thereby meet Congress’ mandate that the website offer “a robust and accurate portrayal of a physician’s performance.”
On a related note, the government, for the first time, will make publicly available information about financial relationships between doctors, teaching hospitals, and drug manufactures. The information release is in compliance with the Affordable Care Act, and in particular the provision that requires drug and device manufacturers, as well as group purchasing programs, to disclose all of their payments and other compensation to physicians and teaching hospitals. Failure to comply can result in being fines.
Beginning in August, the project will begin culling and analyzing data, which must be disclosed by September 30, 2014 on a new website from the CMS. The site is part of the National Physician Payment Transparency Program, according to AARP News, and is initiated in “an effort to bring the financial relationships to light.”
These two responsibilities, when fulfilled by the CMS, will provide greater accountability for medical professionals, and will give the public important information regarding their healthcare decisions, including the costs and quality of care. All of this will be a good sign as services expand in order to accommodate the drastically growing aging population, which will force companies to become more competitive, and ideally, raise the quality of care. The trend also falls in line with the ratings and reviews consumers have begun to enjoy for a wide variety of services, from restaurants to banks and everything in between.
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