Physician Compare still riddled with glitches

Despite recent attempts to upgrade it, Medicare's Physician Compare website is still riddled with glitches, according to the American Medical Association, which says it has found problems that must be addressed before the directory can start providing more information on physician performance, American Medical News reports

There are still issues, despite the fact that the AMA wrote a July 17 letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, urging them to ensure accuracy before moving forward.

"As mentioned in previous comments to CMS, the Physician Compare website search function and underlying demographics of the data must be accurate before the agency adds any additional performance information. The AMA supports this use of physician data when it is used in conjunction with program[s] designed to improve or maintain the quality of, and access to, medical care for all patients, and is used to provide accurate physician performance assessments."

So what went wrong? The Amednews article points to how a patient searching for a plastic surgeon in Tampa, Fla., would likely have the most appropriate doctor listed last. Another problem is incomplete search resultswhen searching by body type--typing "head" into the search bar won't bring up psychiatry-related suggestions. CMS also uses their own specialty categories instead of terms commonly used by physicians.

FiercePracticeManagement reported in early July that the directory was a disappointment despite the add-on of quality data. David E. Williams, president of the Health Business Group, said in a MedCity News article. "For now, though the site is not too useful," Williams wrote. "I tried searching for my doctor, an adult internist in a good sized group practice that I'm sure takes Medicare. I also tried my former physician. No luck. Then I searched for some pediatric specialists (figuring there is some Medicaid data on the site) but couldn't find the people I was looking for."

The complaints have been persistent: The American Medical Association urged CMS to proceed with caution only two months after the site's launch in March 2011. At that time the AMA told CMS there was already inaccurate information on the site.

To learn more:
- read the amednews article
- see the July 17 letter

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