In the world of quality and satisfaction data, some organizations are trying to be first on their block to publish medical and financial data on physician groups.
For years, purchasers and watchdog organizations have collected and disseminated quality and patient-satisfaction data on managed-care companies. Now the focus is shifting to provider groups.
Even managed-care companies are jumping on the data bandwagon: Cypress, Calif.-based PacifiCare Health Systems in late August released a public report rating the performance of almost 120 of its contracted medical groups and independent practice associations on everything from medical screenings to member complaints.
Not to be outdone, one of California's largest medical groups released its own statistics on preventive care and patient satisfaction just days before the PacifiCare release. San Francisco's 1,200-physician Brown & Toland Medical Group has analyzed performance data for three years for internal quality-improvement purposes. This year, prompted partly by the PacifiCare release, the physician group decided to release statistics in several areas, including the number of patients receiving childhood immunizations, Pap tests and early prenatal care.
"We use these data for internal evaluation and improvement, and we believe the public should be able to make the same evaluation in deciding on their healthcare providers," says internist and Chief Medical Officer Tom McAfee, M.D. "We had some concerns with the methodology (PacifiCare) has used. We feel our results are much more accurate than the methodology they used."
PacifiCare's results were based purely on patient-encounter data with no supplemental chart review, McAfee says. The Brown & Toland data, on the other hand, were compiled through a review of claims information, medical charts and an external audit.
McAfee says a standard methodology for reporting must be developed. "Otherwise, we'll do nothing but confuse the public if everyone's reporting using different methodology."