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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Michigan: System Grading Doctors Is Inefficient, Needs Revisions

A system created to grade doctors and empower patients to make better decisions falls short of its goals, according to a study by University of Michigan researchers.

Physician Compare, a website by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was set up to increase transparency and empower patients and caregivers. The site is on its final phase of expansion and has focused on adding clinician-level performance data, in addition to data about the performance of groups of physicians.

Ms. Jun Li, a doctoral candidate in health management and policy at Michigan’s School of Public Health, and colleagues analyzed records of more than 1 million U.S. providers caring for Medicare beneficiaries.

They found that less than a quarter have quality information on Physician Compare and only 1 percent have clinician-level quality information.

“Patients and caregivers want information to be able to make informed choices,” Ms. Li said. “Thus, it is important to determine whether that need is being met. Additionally, federal policymakers are expending a great deal of resources toward Physician Compare, therefore it is imperative that we know how well it is functioning and whether it needs to be improved.”

Among the key findings:

To increase the reliability of the system, the researchers suggest considering major revisions to the website or determining whether a different approach might help achieve the goal of increasing transparency around health care quality.

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