GAO supports doctor profiling system based on Medicare expenses

Measuring physician performance on value and quality is one of the most controversial issues in medicine. It hasn't helped much that physicians have been subjected to a wide variety of inconsistent measures, some from private payers, some from employer groups and others from government. All told, it's a mess.

Nonetheless, legislators and federal health officials are determined to put a system into place, and they're digging through various methods to see which would be the fairest and most appropriate. Such measures, after all, are likely to take on a larger role when health reforms are enacted, so getting things in order only makes sense.

After looking at various approaches, including measuring quality and efficiency over disease episodes, the GAO has now recommended that CMS develop a physician profiling system that looks at Medicare expenses over a fixed period of time.

The system would include empirically-based efficiency standards; risk adjustments for patient health status; financial and other incentives for doctors; and a program educating doctors on how results compare with their peers' results.

To find out more about profiling deliberations in Washington:
- read this American Medical News item

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