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Consumer Reports Evaluates Primary Care Physician Groups on Key Performance Measures in 8 States

Consumer Reports writes there is currently little ability to compare physician practices within the same community, let alone across the country.  In a project part funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a network of patients, doctors, hospitals, employers and insurers, from 40 regions across the country has over the past several years tried to tackle this problem. Eight regions—California; Massachusetts; Maine; Michigan (greater Detroit area); Minnesota; Ohio (greater Columbus area); Washington; and Wisconsin—have agreed to publish Ratings of physician groups in Consumer Reports magazine. Some of those regions are much farther along in their efforts than others. Minnesota has now gathered information on nearly all of the primary care providers in the state, thanks largely to a state law that has required doctors to gather and publicly share that information since 2010. In other states reporting is voluntary or limited to physicians affiliated with certain health insurance plans or large medical groups. In Massachusetts, for example, the data come from physicians who belong to the state’s five largest commercial health insurance plans. In California, the information is limited to doctors who are affiliated with health maintenance organizations. And in Columbus the data come from five of that region’s medical groups. So in most of the regions, the information is available for only a subset of physicians.  The doctor Ratings Consumer Reports is publishing for each region focus on how well physicians provide evidence-based care for common health problems. Depending on the specific region, those include health concerns such as diagnosing back pain, treating diabetes or heart disease, and how often they provide the right screening tests for breast cancer, colon cancer, and cervical cancer.

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