Healthcare Business News

Physician Compare site's inaccuracies, new features rile docs

By Virgil Dickson
Posted: February 25, 2014 - 2:00 pm ET

Doctors question the accuracy of information on the Physician Compare website and feel uninformed about decisions made on adding features to the site, said physicians attending a town hall meeting Monday at the CMS headquarters in Baltimore.

Faulty information on the site includes bad demographic information and whether physicians are participating in certain quality programs, speakers said.

The Physician Compare site was mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to help consumers compare and select providers to address their medical needs. While the medical community is supportive of the site, many are consistently frustrated with inaccurate information on it, speakers said.

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For instance, a quality task force for the College of American Pathologists found errors in 50% of their members' profiles, said Julie Cantor-Weinberg, director, economic & regulatory affairs at the trade group.

“Accuracy should be the first priority, before any additional information is considered for the site,” Cantor-Weinberg said.

Each provider page includes a link asking “is this you?” The aim is to for providers to alert the CMS if something is amiss with their profiles. But the link has delivered no relief to providers because the contractors hired by the CMS to oversee that part of the site have very cumbersome administrative requirements before any changes can be made, according to Rodney Peele, assistant director for regulatory policy and outreach at the American Optometric Association.

“Getting information updated or corrected is a nightmare for a lot of physicians,” Peele said.

Specifically, the CMS has told providers they can expect to wait up to four months for changes to appear. “That's disconcerting because the site is supposed to assist in making decisions about medical care,” said Koryn Rubin, assistant director, federal affairs at American Medical Association.

With distrust of the quality of the site high, many of those who made public comments at the town hall opposed a CMS suggestion to reduce the time doctors have to review information about themselves before it's posted on the site. It's 30 days now, but the CMS wants to change that to two weeks, starting in 2015.

Physicians also feel they are not informed when new features are added to the site, the most recent being the star rating feature added last week.

Doctors want to be treated on par with hospital stakeholders who get to meet with the CMS quarterly to inform the content on the Hospital Compare website, Rubin said.

CMS officials were primarily in listen mode at the event though they did preview some activities to address issues discussed. For instance, the federal agency is working on a project that would allow for more real time changes to be made, said Regina Reymann Chell, deputy director for the Division of Electronic and Clinician in the Quality Measurement & Health Assessment Group division at the CMS.

However, she said it was too soon to discuss when the function would be available. The CMS always welcome stakeholder input on Physician Compare, she said. But she stopped short of saying regularly scheduled, formal meetings would be held with doctors.

Follow Virgil Dickson on Twitter: @MHvdickson

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