Columbia University Medical Center

Physician Compare: What Does It Mean to You?

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Public reporting on physician quality: it’s inescapable. Physician Compare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) website that posts public information about Medicare providers’ performance on certain quality and patient experience measures, has been designed to help patients make informed decisions about their health care. Information comes from data reported through the PQRS program and the CAHPS patient surveys.

“While it is difficult to accurately measure physician performance, these ‘report cards’ may influence a patient’s decision to come to see a Columbia doctor,” says Teri Gillette, BSN, MHA, CPHQ, chief quality officer for ColumbiaDoctors. “The growing importance of public reporting will eventually drive patients to providers who are perceived to be ‘high quality’– even if the measures tracked do not pertain to their practice.”

Teri GIllette

Teri Gillette

As it turns out, individual data for ColumbiaDoctors providers won’t be on Physician Compare this year. CMS has determined that it will only report individual providers’ 2014 PQRS data on its Physician Compare website for those providers who submitted their data via the CMS GPRO web tool. Since most departments within ColumbiaDoctors reported 2014 PQRS quality measures as a group using a registry rather than as individual providers, you will not see an individual breakdown of performance on those measures in 2015. Instead, you may see a green check mark simply indicating that the provider successfully reported.

Clinicians should take note: Our 2015 individual data is on the schedule to be published. In addition to quality measures, performance on patient experience measures, such as “How well did your doctors communicate,” “patient’s rating of doctor,” and “getting timely care, appointments, and information” will be seen. Eventually, CMS may start benchmarking performance using a five-star rating system, to make it easier for consumers to draw comparisons.

Among the 2014 measures that will be reported are high blood pressure control, depression screening, and daily aspirin or antiplatelet medication use for patients with diabetes and ischemic vascular disease.

“While our providers’ individual data will not be on Physician Compare this year, we will be monitoring our performance on these measures internally,” said Gillette. “It’s essential that all providers understand how important this will be going forward.”