How Physician Compare Could Help Consumers

Mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Physician Compare website was created to allow consumers to compare physicians based on quality of care. In addition to information such as specialty, location, and gender, patients will be able to see and compare how patients rate their experience with doctors, as well as how the doctors perform on a dashboard of clinical and outcomes measures.

Launched by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Physician Compare website is coming of age at a time when consumers are demanding comparative information about almost everything they buy, including health care services. Furthermore, large employers, health insurers, and government programs that pay for health care on consumers’ behalf are determined to hold doctors accountable as costs continue to soar. As a result, Physician Compare could become a game changer for consumers, but only if the government is bold and decisive. Of course, the site must be fair to doctors. But consumers and purchasers have a right to know how their doctors measure up when putting their lives and well-being in physicians’ hands.

Physician Compare holds great promise for advancing health care quality and more informed consumer choices, but delivering on the promise will require dramatic improvements in providing information that is meaningful to consumers and presented in a format that is easy to use.