Grading the Nation on Physician Quality Information Transparency

Submitted by on Tuesday, December 16, 2014 - 09:03

2015 is quickly approaching and many consumer-patients are participating in open enrollment for next year’s health care insurance options. The question is: what changes can consumers expect to see in those options?

Higher deductibles, for starters.

In fact, over 80% of employers are offering a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) option to employees. What’s more is that 32% are planning on offering ONLY high deductible plans. HDHPs are attractive to many consumers, especially the young and healthy, due to the low monthly contributions. But at the end of the day, having an HDHP means consumers are expected to share more of the health costs. Until the large deductible is met, almost every penny, with the exception of preventive care, is out of pocket.

For most any purchase we make, we usually research before we decide. As Americans, we love getting good deals. We love the freedom we have to shop and compare prices and quality of products to make sure we are choosing the option that is best for us, especially when the money is coming out of our bank accounts.

Why should health care be any different?

Well, it shouldn’t. But unfortunately, it is.

Today, the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute released the 2014 State Report Card on Transparency of Physician Quality Information. This report grades states based on the percentage of clinicians with publicly available quality information, the type of measurement reported, and how accessible and useful the information is to consumers.

While we see improvement from last year’s report, overall there is a considerable lack of objective and useful public quality information. In fact, independent and objective quality reporting is available for only 16% of clinicians in the U.S. That means for the vast majority of doctors, consumers are left in the dark when it comes to accessing, knowing and understanding the quality of care they can expect to receive.

Those who live in states like Minnesota and Washington can rest a little easier knowing their states are making efforts to help consumers make informed health care decisions. We see states like California, Maine, Massachusetts and Wisconsin making progress as well. These states are leading the pack because of programs like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) effort as well as a large presence of Bridges to Excellence recognized clinicians. The AF4Q sites have worked hard over the past years to improve health care quality in their states, which includes providing public reporting tools for consumers. These programs are proof that public reporting can be done and done well. However, for the rest of the nation, there is nothing. Do you think that’s right?

How did your state fair? Check out the report and corresponding map to find out.