Will Physician Compare Become the Next Yelp?

Will the new service become a boon or bust for local physicians?

In our last post, we took a high level look at the new website from CMS, Physician Compare.  In this post Main Street Medical will take a subjective look at the new website and discuss a few concerns regarding the information to be displayed on the website, and what benefits are said to be gained.  


Physician Compare is projected to display a composite score awarded to each practitioner or practice, that is a combination of scores from four different categories and their weighted percentages.  The four categories are cost, quality, clinical practice improvement and advancing care information. The last category is what replaces the Meaningful Use performance qualifier under the previous payment programs, pre-MACRA.


A main concern among physicians and practices regarding the Physician Compare website, is that their patients might not understand the implications of the overall quality score, and chose to see another provider.


Another concern, is when users drill down and look more closely at the quality score.  Physicians have almost 300 measures on which they can choose to be assessed.  Physicians want to choose the parameters that make them look the best, but these may not be important or make sense to a patient.  This has left providers debating which of the many measures to select.


At first glance, this might not seem like a huge deal, but these scores, and the data on this website may cause certain practices to lose a percentage of their patients.  Yes, the older patients who have seen the same provider or or practice for years are not likely to make a change based on the information on this website.  The younger patients however, who frequently use review based websites to make purchase decisions regarding other goods and services, may be likely to switch providers based on the information available to them, and their ability to understand it.  


With the ambiguity around what information to submit, and what control physicians and clinicians will have over updating or changing that information, providers fear that the Physician Compare website, may become the new Yelp! of healthcare.


Once a practice determines which quality measures they would like to be scored on, and after the first performance period, they can submit their scores to Physician Compare.  After the information is submitted, there is a 90 day window in which changes can be made or requested.  We’ll look for more detailed information regarding this website to come from CMS in the near future.


For now, we know that this is meant to be a resource for both physicians and their patients, to collectively uplift the quality of healthcare while lowering its cost.  By selecting the appropriate quality measures, and submitting accurate data, physicians should not have cause for worry.  In the event that this does become a detriment, CMS will no doubt make changes.


Physician Compare is very unlikely to become the next Yelp.