With Commonwealth Fund and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation support, Massachusetts Health Quality Partners (MHQP) has publicly released clinical quality data as well as patients' ratings of their experiences with doctors' offices throughout the state.(8)
Data on the clinical performance of primary care physicians are now publicly available at the medical group level in Massachusetts. Formed in 1995, Massachusetts Health Quality Partners gathered information from the state's five largest private health plans on the quality of care provided by 150 medical groups. The coalition then posted these data on its Web site to encourage consumers to search for high-quality providers and guide physicians looking to improve their performance.
This information enables consumers to evaluate the performance of medical groups across 15 measures of clinical quality developed by the National Committee for Quality Assurance as part of the Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set, or HEDIS, as well as patient experiences with their care from physicians. Consumers can search for quality information by physician name and location.
The MHQP coalition, which has worked to engage physicians in the data release process, recognizes that public disclosure is an essential step in the process of quality improvement. By providing data on physician groups—rather than limiting the release to state performance averages—it is possible to identify variations in care and begin to understand why some groups perform better than others. This year's report, for example, found significant variation in how well physicians care for patients with depression, those with asthma, and teenagers.
The Commonwealth Fund is also supporting projects to better understand variations in cost and quality across hospitals, medical groups, and geographic areas, and to assist providers and health plans in responding to the increasing availability of comparative data.