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July 2008
Volume 18, Number 7
CMS to Launch New Website to Compare Physicians

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to launch a new Physician Compare website modeled after the agency’s Hospital Compare website, www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov, which provides consumers with quality data related to certain conditions or procedures.

Although few details of the proposed physician website have been released yet, IDSA has already contacted the agency to express concern. While providing information about the quality of medical care is a “laudable goal,” the new project “is fraught with challenges and unintended consequences, including the likelihood that Medicare beneficiaries will misinterpret quality data,” said Michael Buckley, MD, FIDSA, chair of IDSA’s Quality Improvement Task Force, in a June 30 letter to CMS.

From an ID perspective, the biggest challenge is the lack of available accountability measures for inpatient infectious diseases consultants. In addition, patient choice does not play a role in many inpatient consultations. Patients who need an ID consult are routinely among the sickest and most complex patients and don’t have the means to access nor the ability to compare meaningful quality information before seeing an ID physician. “Absent a sound risk adjustment methodology, making such data publicly available would serve no purpose other than to provide retrospective and misleading quality information to patients,” said the IDSA letter.

IDSA’s letter to CMS can be found online.
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