'Physician Compare' Gives Patients Access to Your Quality Data

Register for Free Webinar; Learn About Quality Reporting

January 22, 2016 02:25 pm News Staff
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Family physicians, take note: Registration is now open(events.r20.constantcontact.com) for three free webinars hosted by CMS that aim to update physicians on the quality reporting website known as Physician Compare.(www.cms.gov)

At first glance, the webinars seem designed for current participants in the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS); however, the target audience is much broader because sweeping changes instigated by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) will expand use of the reporting site.

Choose one of three days in the last full week of February to take advantages of these learning opportunities, each of which will cover the same details about the Physician Compare site and future public reporting plans. The one-hour sessions will include an opportunity for physicians to ask questions.

The webinars will be held

  • Feb. 23 at noon EST,
  • Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. EST and
  • Feb. 25 at 11 a.m. EST.

Stepping Up Efforts

CMS appears to have stepped up efforts to engage physician interest in Physician Compare, in part due to the December 2015 posting of new physician-reported data related to 2014 PQRS measures.

Story Highlights
  • Register now for a free CMS webinar and learn more about the Physician Compare website and the future of quality reporting.
  • The announcement of the webinars follows the December 2015 posting of new physician-reported data related to 2014 Physician Quality Reporting System measures.
  • The AAFP has long supported the concept of public reporting of quality measures but has questioned the complexity and accuracy of information on Physician Compare, as well as the value of the site to consumers.

Family physicians would do well to check in and make sure that information posted about them on the site -- which is open to their patients for viewing -- is accurate and up-to-date.

"Patients can go to this website and look up a physician's quality outcomes and then use that information when choosing a physician to provide their health care," said Heidy Robertson-Cooper, an AAFP senior strategist for health care quality.

"Physicians need to make sure that all publicly reported data is correct to ensure that patients are using accurate information to make those decisions," she added.

Examples of information on the quality of care provided to Medicare patients include data on PQRS measures(www.medicare.gov) related to

  • depression screening,
  • tobacco use and cessation,
  • body mass index and the development of a followup plan for patients who are overweight,
  • blood pressure screening and development of a followup plan,
  • medication reconciliation, and
  • aspirin use to prevent heart attack and stroke in patients with diabetes.

Correcting Errors

See a mistake? Errors in a physician's quality data should be reported immediately via email to Westat, the company charged with updating site information.

In addition, CMS offers specific instructions(www.cms.gov) on how to correct details such as practice location, medical training details and hospital affiliations.

Physician Compare was created to fulfill a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The AAFP has expressed concerns about the site since its Dec. 30, 2010, launch and has offered suggestions to improve it ever since.

In fact, in an August 2015 letter(28 page PDF) to CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt regarding the 2016 proposed Medicare physician fee schedule, (then) AAFP Board Chair Reid Blackwelder, M.D., of Kingsport, Tenn., reaffirmed the AAFP's support for the site but outlined a number of concerns, including the "complexity and accuracy of the information and its usefulness to consumers."

He also reminded CMS of the urgency of pending improvements to the site as its relevance grows with the implementation of MACRA.

Related AAFP News Coverage
Physician Compare Website Preview Period Extended to Nov. 16

Additional Resource
Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA)