Technology Key to Physician Performance Measurement, Study Finds
Better technology for data collection and quality reporting could improve the process of physician clinical performance measurement, according to a study in last week's Journal of the American Medical Association, the Boston Herald reports. Patients can find out basic information about doctors, such as a physician's disciplinary history and board certification, Dr. Bruce Landon of Harvard Medical School's Department of Health Care Policy and the study's lead author, said, adding that patients need more information (Powell, Boston Herald, 9/8). Although PCPA could help ensure physician competency, help health care consumers make choices and contribute to quality improvement efforts, such a system currently "appears to be infeasible," the study found. Barriers to widespread mandatory clinical performance measurements include the absence of evidence-based guidelines for some specialties that are "robust and comprehensive enough to support PCPA," according to the study. While data collection costs are often high, the study found that the "increasing availability of electronic information, including claims data as well as laboratory results, likely will mitigate some of these expenses in the future." The researchers recommend increased research and development of PCPAs and "wider adoption of electronic medical records and the creation of data standards across multiple sites of care." Developing effective systems for assessing quality, the study concludes, "will require considerable improvement in the technology of physician performance measurement" (Landon et al., JAMA, 9/3). The full-text of the study is available online.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.