CMS adds star ratings to Physician Compare site

Patients who want to compare doctors on the government’s Physician Compare website now have more information at their fingertips.

For the first time, physicians’ 2016 performance data is displayed as star ratings on the site’s profile pages, according to a fact sheet from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The agency also added new quality measures that allow patients to compare data on doctors.

Those star ratings have been controversial on CMS’ Hospital Compare website. Hospital industry groups argue that the ratings are unfairly weighted to the detriment of hospitals that treat low-income or highly-complex patient populations.

CMS created Physician Compare as a requirement of the Affordable Care Act and has been phasing in new features to help patients make informed choice about Medicare physicians.

Physician Compare will now display a subset of doctors’ performance under the Physician Quality Reporting System measures as star ratings. CMS said the measures now included on profile pages represent a variety of types of clinical care by groups representing many different specialties. 

The measures used to calculate doctors’ scores are based on eight categories ranging from general to more specialized care and include preventive care (general health and cancer screening), patient safety, care planning, diabetes, heart disease, respiratory diseases and behavioral health.

The CMS fact sheet explains the methodology the agency used to arrive at the star ratings for physicians.

Doctors are no strangers to commercial physician-rating websites. But while nearly early 60% of patients believe online reviews are important when choosing a physician, one study found those commercial websites are pretty useless in judging a doctor’s patient care.