Group Questions Effect of Health Care Provider Ratings
Although quality ratings of health care providers can be "vitally important" to consumers, the public release of the ratings may not be conveying the message that the ratings organizations intended, a group representing organizations that developed quality ratings of health care providers found, the Stockton Record reports. At a meeting coordinated by the Office of the Patient Advocate last week in conjunction with the release of its annual report and ratings of HMOs and medical groups, the group found that the ratings may be pushing health care providers to change their practices to help improve quality. Dr. Mark Smith, president and CEO of the California HealthCare Foundation, said that while people want information about their providers, public health care ratings are new compared to other public consumer ratings. He added, "This whole business of reporting [health provider] quality to consumers is a leap of faith." Leo Estrada, a University of California-Los Angeles professor of urban planning, said, "There are too many report cards. What's the consumer supposed to look at?" Estrada recommended collaboration among ratings groups, as well as making the information available to the public more comprehensible, the Record reports.
In related news, Blue Cross of California and Health Net California Region issued a joint letter last week saying that while they support efforts to inform consumers, the OPA report is "inconsistent and potentially misleading." The letter states that each HMO "uses a different formula to compile data and display comparative data and trends," which results in a report that is an "inaccurate and confusing picture of health plans' comparative performance." The insurers recommended that agencies issuing ratings on HMOs "agree upon a consistent, reliable and easy-to-understand rating system ... and be consistent from year to year" (Goldeen, Stockton Record, 9/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.