Consumer Reports ranks cholesterol screenings, disease management

In its third edition focused on rating healthcare, Consumer Reports examines seven quality measures, including controlling bad cholesterol in patients with vascular disease.

Earlier in 2012, the magazine published similar rankings of doctor groups in Massachusetts and Minnesota. The series has looked at different aspects of medical practice care--including physician communication and value in treating chronic conditions--from a consumer standpoint and represents a major departure from Consumer Reports' traditional focus on purchases, such as cars and appliances.

According to the newest magazine insert, which scores 19 medical groups in Wisconsin, found that even the lowest-scoring of the 19 groups evaluated scored higher than the national average of 50 points out of 100.

Overall, Appleton-based ThedaCare Physicians earned the highest score, followed by the Marshfield Clinic, the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported. As specific measures, Aurora Medical Group, Gundersen Clinic, Prevea Health and ThedaCare Physicians earned the highest rating for screening patients for breast, colon and cervical cancer, while Bellin Medical Group, Dean Clinic, Marshfield Clinic and ThedaCare Physicians earned the highest score for the screening and control of bad cholesterol in patients with heart disease.

The scores are also available through the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (which, together with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, collaborated on the project).

The higher-scoring practices attributed their success partly to health IT. According to Central Wisconsin Business, Marshfield Clinic Chief Medical Officer Laura Nelson said the group's electronic medical records helped its high ratings.

"It gets information to clinicians on a timely basis," she said. "Wherever patients end up, the information is available to clinicians so care is not interrupted."

Meanwhile, lower-scoring Froedtert Health noted that its scheduled EMR rollout next year will enable the clinics to set up registries to identify patients with chronic conditions who are due or overdue to see their doctor, the Sentinel reported, adding that all groups included in the report had the ability to opt out.

In addition, Froedtert, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare and Columbia St. Mary's Health System all noted in statements that Consumer Reports looked at only a small subset of quality measures, the newspaper reported.

"There is no perfect way to develop these types of numerical ratings," said Chris Queram, president and chief executive of the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality. "We went through a very technical, a very rigorous, process, and everyone felt comfortable with it at the end."

To learn more:
- read the article from the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel
- see the story from Central Wisconsin Business
- see the report (.pdf) from Consumer Reports and the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality

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