States still fail to deliver physician quality metrics

By Matt Kuhrt

When it comes to providing consumers with information on the quality of the healthcare that physicians provide, most states have a dismal record, according to an annual report card issued by the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute.

For the third year in a row, the scorecard dished out failing grades to 43 states, and of those, only three (New Mexico, Missouri and Ohio) managed a D. Among the seven states that passed, three scraped by with a C (Oregon, Wisconsin and Massachusetts). California, Washington and Minnesota stood at the top of the list with As, and Maine earned the lone B.

Despite the poor overall results, the report's authors see some reason for optimism, citing progress by ProPublica and Consumers' Checkbook in aggregating and publishing ratings for certain surgical procedures.

While changes in the healthcare marketplace have spurred national interest in improving price transparency, quality data have mostly come from efforts on the state or community level to provide metrics on primary care physicians, according to the report.

There's no question that consumers are hungry for care metrics, and that price metrics aren't enough to guide smart patient decisions without accompanying quality data. There's enough need to drive increased consumer interest in online service rankings, as FiercePracticeManagement previously reported.

To date, most of the processes to collect quality control metrics have been dominated by physicians, hospitals and major healthcare players, according to a HealthAffairs Blog post. That has tilted the playing field in favor of collecting metrics more useful to providers than consumers.

Even among the states and communities making progress toward full transparency, consumers currently get access to information for less than half of all physicians in their respective states, per the report.

To learn more:
- here's the report
- read the HealthAffairs Blog post