Mobile App Highlights Patient Advocate Site

Ratings of health plans’ performance put together by the state Office of the Patient Advocate and newly displayed on its website are now accessible by mobile application.

“This is the first app of this type nationally,” said OPA director Amy Krause. “We hope this makes quality an important part of every doctor visit.”

At the heart of what makes the mobile app worthwhile, Krause said, is the rating system itself, which is based on information provided by the Department of Insurance. Patients can compare performance and quality factors among HMOs, PPOs and medical groups in California, both overall and within specific categories, such as how plans’ providers handle diabetes prevention and treatment.

“[Consumers can see] quality ratings for each of the different HMO health plans, with a variety of conditions,” Krause said. “Within the page for each of the health plans, we’ve shown the stars for each of the plans. This is the first time we’ve shown all the star ratings for one plan all in one place.”

When consumers boot up each category, they can get rundowns on the types of things they should be doing and what they should expect their providers to do.

“Folks wanted to understand what it was they should be doing for each condition,” Krause said, “so we have text both for what patients and physicians should be doing.”

There are about 40 clinical care measures rated in the OPA reports — among the 10 biggest HMOs in California, the six biggest PPOs and 209 medical groups. It also rates Medi-Cal services, the Healthy Families Program, hospitals and long-term care facilities.

According to OPA officials, health plans and medical groups are improving in several areas, including the number of children getting immunized, checked for excess body fat and treated for throat infections.

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Capitol Desk Public Health