HEALTH NET: To Release Medical Treatment Report Cards
Health Net "is taking physician report cards to another level" and releasing them on a variety of chronic illnesses, the Orange County Register reports. The HMO's report card on asthma treatment is due out this week, with others rating depression, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol -- conditions that account for up to 75% of health care dollars -- to "follow soon" (Kowalczyk, 12/1). Based on a voluntary survey of 11,000 of its asthma patients and a collection of pharmacy information, Health Net found that "severely ill patients who got their care from an asthma specialist fared better than those treated by a primary care doctor." Of the 47 medical groups with which Health Net contracts, nine received an "above average" rating, 32 an "average" rating and six scored "below average." Overall, however, the medical groups "generally failed" to adhere to "gold standard" guidelines set by the National Asthma Education Program. Dr. Antonio Legorreta, vice president for quality initiatives at Health Net's parent company, Foundation Health, said, "There is an overall lack of consistency between the way patients with asthma are being managed. There is room for improvement" ( AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 12/2). The Register reports that Health Net said it will use the report cards to set incentives for medical groups -- those "judged most successful" will receive a four-star rating and a 3%-5% bonus, while those that "do poorly face losing patients and money." Some doctors groups, however, questioned the report card's accuracy, "saying the data can be incorrect and the information misleading" (12/1). Click report cards for past coverage.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.