CMS launches provider comparison tool

With the launch last week of the first phase of its 'Physician Compare' website, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) touts enhanced search features online to help patients find appropriate doctors for their needs. 

Currently, the site lists information for doctors such as contact and address information, medical specialty, degree credentials, gender and languages spoken. It also shows whether or not a doctor reported specific quality data to CMS. 

The site was mandated by the healthcare reform law passed last March. 

"This helps to pave the way for consumers to have similar information about their physicians as they have for nursing homes, home health agencies and health and drug plans," CMS head Dr. Donald Berwick said, according to a press release. "By using a considered, step-wise approach to spotlighting quality of care, we can create a tool that will help doctors and patients for decades to come." 

While Berwick specifically emphasizes improvement of care quality for people under Medicare, the site can be used by anyone, regardless of whether or not they are using the government program. 

A second phase of the site, scheduled to launch later this year, will show whether or not listed doctors are volunteering to prescribe medicine electronically. Data about the quality of care received by Medicare patients from medical providers is scheduled to be available by 2013. 

For more information:
- here's the CMS press release
- check out the site for yourself
- read this Government Health IT article