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By Monica E. Oss

We can add a few more data points to the growing list of online ratings of health care provider organizations. As 2017 wrapped up, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) added 2016 Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) data and measure-level star ratings to their Physician Compare website. While PQRS data was available in the past, star ratings were added for physicians in December 2017 (see CMS Adds PQRS Data, Star Ratings To Physician Compare Website).

CMS is implementing the star ratings based on the Achievable Benchmark of Care (ABC™) methodology to develop a benchmark. This means that CMS will rank-order physicians by highest to lowest performance score; create subset of the groups by selecting the best performers; and calculate the benchmark using the “performance” provided to the top 10% of consumers (see Physician Compare Benchmark and Star Ratings Fact Sheet). CMS will then use the “equal ranges method”, based on the difference between the ABC™ benchmark and the lowest performance score for a given measure.

The measures themselves are from the 2016 Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) data, a voluntary CMS Quality Program. The program uses a combination of incentive payments and payment adjustments to promote reporting of quality information. The measures are derived from eight categories, including general health preventative screening, cancer screening preventative care, consumer safety, care planning, diabetes, heart disease, respiratory diseases, and behavioral health. All told, consumers who search the Physician Compare site will have access to this new data, plus 2016 data for the Shared Savings Program, Pioneer, and Next Generation Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), and group ACO affiliations.

Given the recent statements from Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Seema Verma, it is likely that these initiatives will continue to expand. Secretary Azar and Administrator Verma have both been vocal about the need to improve transparency and access to data for consumers, with new programs designed to increase data sharing and give consumers more control over their health care decisions (see CMS Shifting Data Control To Consumers: Are You Ready To Share? and Remarks by CMS Administrator Seema Verma at the HIMSS18 Conference). As of today, there are ten ratings systems from CMS:

  1. Physician Compare
  2. Hospital Compare
  3. Home Health Compare
  4. Nursing Compare
  5. Dialysis Facility Compare
  6. Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Compare
  7. Long-Term Care Hospital Compare
  8. Medicare Plan Finder
  9. Supplier Directory
  10. Hospice Compare

If your organization isn’t concerned about CMS measures because you’re not participating in Medicare or Medicaid—or your volume in those programs isn’t large—you might want to take note that consumers and referral sources search these sites whether they are in those programs or not. This means that the importance of these resources for either free marketing, or permanently available “bad press,” has also grown.

We’ve written before about the importance of online reputation management and this new development just increases that importance. For more on how to set up and strengthen your online reputation management program, check out these resources in the OPEN MINDS Industry Library:

And for more on leveraging your online presence—both the information you produce and the online rankings you don’t—join Timothy Snyder, OPEN MINDS Executive Vice President, and Kristi Hamilton, OPEN MINDS Senior Associate, on Monday June 4 at The 2018 OPEN MINDS Strategy & Innovation Institute, for their Executive Seminar, “Finding The Path To Online Marketing Success: An OPEN MINDS Executive Seminar On Best Practices In Website & Social Media Marketing.”

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