Los Angeles Times Examines Concerns About Use of Report Cards To Rate Physicians
The Los Angeles Times on Monday examined concerns about the use of "report cards" to rate physician performance. According to the Times, several states require physicians to report outcomes for some medical procedures, and health insurers are "increasingly rating doctors' performance and tying doctors' pay to their scores."
The report cards are "intended to motivate poorly performing doctors to do better," improve the quality of health care and help address patient safety issues, but critics maintain that the report cards can prompt physicians to "withhold necessary care to the sickest patients" to improve their scores, the Times reports.
A study released last week by researchers at the University of Michigan found that physicians in New York -- which requires physicians to report outcomes for two forms of major heart surgery -- were less likely than physicians in Michigan -- which does not have such a requirement -- to perform angioplasties on severely ill patients because of the potential effect of their scores. Lead author Mauro Moscucci, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Michigan, said, "Public reporting is a good idea and has many benefits," adding that "we should be concerned that some doctors may be denying care to patients who need care."
In addition, a separate survey published earlier this year in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that almost eight in 10 cardiologists in New York said the requirement to report outcomes for the two heart surgeries made them less likely to treat severely ill patients (Costello, Los Angeles Times, 6/13).