Guest post by Kent Bottles, M.D., a lecturer at the Thomas Jefferson University School of Population Health
To say there is a global disagreement about publicly reported ratings for physician and hospital performance is an understatement. The trend is toward more ways for the public to consult data before choosing a physician or hospital. In 2007, the National Health Service in the United Kingdom launched the NHS Choices website to allow patients to evaluate physicians and hospitals. In 2011, the largest German health insurer created the Arzt-Navi website with a similar function. Internet searches reveal more than 30 private physician-rating sites.
In the United States, there is general agreement that healthcare costs too much and that there are outcome-related quality difference between physicians and hospitals. If publicly reported ratings for providers can reveal these differences, they would be powerful tools that could support the Triple Aim and improve healthcare. Many of the provisions in the Affordable Care Act and the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act advocate for more transparency and accountability of physicians and hospitals.
Opponents of this seemingly inevitable trend list several concerns about publicly reported ratings websites: