Keeping Score: A CMS Ranking Program That Just May Work!
By Frank Cohen, Director of Analytics and Business Intelligence
As originally published by Racmonitor.com
For those that have read my articles in the past, you know that I am not a fan of physician ranking or scoring programs. Checkbook USA and ProPublica each publish a scorecard that supposedly ranks the quality of care provided by a given physician and while they put a lot of time and solid research into their metrics, they lack one very major component; a review of medical records. Without that, their findings, while maybe statistically sound, lack merit with regard to real causal results. Bottom line; it’s a good screening program but it doesn’t provide enough solid information, in my opinion, to empower a consumer to compare physicians with any degree of certainty.
Then, we have these online programs, such as Health Grades, vitals.com, ucomparhealthcare.com, Rate MDs, Dr. Score and others that supposedly rate and compare different physicians. While some claim to have created algorithms that consider lots of data points, for most, what are supposed to be real patients share their personal experiences for a particular physician, giving other consumers the opportunity to get a closer look at the physician-patient relationship. The most obvious problem is that you don’t know if the person leaving the review is a real patient or just a competitor. I recently went to leave a review for a physician (to test it out) and it made me click a box saying that I was a patient of this physician. Really? That’s how they validate it? If you look at the reviews for HealthGrades, for example, you will see complaints from folks who say they were actual patients of that physician but had their review blocked or physicians who try to validate ‘anonymous’ reviews or have them removed without success. I looked up my neurosurgeon and the ratings were all over the place. One patient said that he walking into the hospital and left in a wheelchair. Another praised the courteousness of the staff and the short wait time. Personally, I think the staff are rude and for my past three visits, my waiting time averaged just over two-and-a-half hours but hey, the guy is a genius and he resolved my very complex spinal problem 100%. Bottom line is that most of these sites are based on anecdote and that’s not a good way to pick a doctor.