New York, NY—Information that is easily available to the public and that patients are encouraged to use to select a physician, such as what medical school they attended, years of experience, and malpractice claims, are poor predictors of the quality of care those doctors provide, according to a new Commonwealth Fund-supported article published in today’s Archives of Internal Medicine. The study suggests that publicly reporting how doctors perform on quality of care measures is essential if patients are to be informed in making care-seeking decisions.
"This research highlights a serious problem for health care consumers which is that we are currently looking for doctors who provide quality care in a vacuum—with information that is not relevant, and can even be misleading," said Anne-Marie Audet, M.D., the Commonwealth Fund’s Vice President for Health System Quality and Efficiency. "We need to raise standards for information about how well doctors are doing at delivering care and ensure that patients have access to accurate, relevant data that provide an assessment of how physicians perform based on clinical quality measures."
In the analysis of more than 10,000 Massachusetts doctors, RAND Corporation and University of Pittsburgh researchers used 124 indicators from RAND’s Quality Assessment Tools system to determine what, if any, relationship existed between physicians’ characteristics and physicians’ performance on various quality measures like giving the proper medications and recommending the right screening tests and follow-up care. Overall, researchers found that a physician’s attributes had little relationship with the quality of care they provided--highlighting the value of making quality of care data more widely available to consumers.