Monday September 16th 2019

A look at Physician Compare

A new policy brief from Health Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation  (RWJF) looks at the evolution and current development plans for Physician Compare, a website mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

A simple version of the site first launched in 2010. Since then the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has slowly been adding limited sets of data listing the various physician groups participating in a number of Medicare quality improvement initiatives. Physician Compare also includes other providers, including all four APRN roles, physical therapists and clinical psychologists (See Sept./Oct. 2014 issue of The American Nurse, “APRN Focus”).

This year, the site will expand to include more recent and extensive information about performance and quality of care, in a format that’s similar to the other ACA-generated websites — Hospital Compare, Nursing Home Compare, Home Health Compare and Dialysis Facility Compare. These sites, which encompass tens of thousands of facilities nationwide, are credited with advancing accountability and motivating improvements in care and quality. They are also faulted as poorly organized and inadequately audited when the data are submitted by facilities.

Meanwhile, beyond CMS, the number of other physician rating sites online has exploded. Public interest and engagement has grown as well. According to a 2012 survey, conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), one in four Americans had consulted a rating site when selecting a primary care physician that year. Topics covered in the briefs include background and law, logistical challenges and gaining the trust of physicians and their trade groups, and consumer trust and acceptance of data. The briefs are also available from the RWJF’s website, at www.healthreform.org.

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