When he heard that the CMS had redesigned its Physician Compare website, Dr. Douglas Denham checked it out.
“Other than my name being correct and that I practice in San Antonio, the rest of the information was incorrect,” Denham said. “I've never been at that address in my life. I've never had that phone number in my life.”
Investigating further, Denham went to a site called Wellness.com that listed his practice location from about 13 years ago.
The American Medical Association's DoctorFinder database correctly listed his phone number and that Denham was an osteopathic family physician in San Antonio. But because he's not an AMA member, that's about all it listed. Even Google is not Denham's friend. A law firm in Portland, Maine, whose lead partners have the last names of Douglas and Denham, gets listed in search results for “Douglas Denham” ahead of his practice's website at abcfamilymedicine.com.
The Physician Compare website is intended to help consumers cut through that online noise. The site, called for under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, went live in 2010 with a limited set of information. A revamped version launched last week adds an “intelligent search” feature and more information about the listed physicians.
A CMS official said the website is being developed in a phased approach and is proceeding according to plan. The schedule calls for adding quality measures in 2014—the CMS has agreed to a 30-day preview period allowing providers to review that information before it is posted.
Denham said the misinformation about him on the Web is not a concern for him because he practices out of a large assisted-living facility and doesn't rely on patients finding their way to him online. But he figures the government should be able to find the right information on him without too much trouble; most of his patients are “retired military folks.”