New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal to save $1.2 million by defunding the state's NYDoctorProfile.com website is coming under fire from a coalition of 16 patient- and consumer-advocacy groups who call the plan “a dangerous step backwards in the effort for greater transparency in healthcare.”
The website was created by the New York Patient Health Information and Quality Improvement Act of 2000 and launched the next year. It contains information about doctors' medical education, malpractice-litigation history, any involuntary loss or restriction of hospital privileges, and translation services available at physicians' office. Physicians may voluntarily add information such as their partners' names, published research articles and lists of health plans.
The PULSE of New York patient-safety advocacy group is part of the coalition opposing Cuomo's proposal. PULSE co-founder Ilene Corina, whose son died after undergoing a tonsillectomy, said defunding the website “sets back an important public safeguard by more than a decade.”
“Choosing someone because they were nice just didn't work anymore,” Corina said in a release. “It's not about good or bad. It's about my right to choose what is important in a physician who will be part of my team.”
New York State Department of Health spokeswoman Monica Mahaffey, however, said the information is available elsewhere. Education and practice information is available on commercial websites such as WebMD and patients also can go to the state's Office of Professional Medical Conduct's website to see if any disciplinary action has been taken against a physician.
NYDoctorProfile.com had about 35,000 unique visitors in December, Mahaffey said. A decision on the website's fate and the rest of Cuomo's $142 billion budget will probably be made by April.
The coalition sent a letter to Cuomo acknowledging that the website's information is available elsewhere, but the state's website is the most comprehensive and provides all the needed information in one place.
“People who are ill or facing a health issue should not have to wade through a plethora of incomplete websites, which may or may not contain accurate or useful information, just to find basic information about the credentials and safety record of a doctor practicing in New York State,” the coalition's letter stated (PDF). “Rather than revoke this important transparency tool for patients, we urge that you strengthen the law to require dissemination of information about the Physician Profile directly to patients.”
Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks