The desire for better standards of practices by healthcare providers has recently resulted in the call for more accountability, of practices by healthcare providers as these are the first agents of quality in the health care in the industry. There have been concentrated attempts to turn the health care system into a value-driven operation, where substantial investments are made in order to achieve better outcomes for patients.
The establishment of laws, that allow information about physician competencies to be availed to the public, is one attempt at raising the standards in the health care industry. For this purpose, several states in the United States of America have passed legislation, legalizing the use and publishing of physician report cards and the unrestricted access of physician information by the public. Such physician report cards contains a measure of several aspects of the physician`s practice competencies, such as the assessment of quality of work, performance efficiency, public reporting, recognition of outstanding performance as well as any malpractices and associate law suits disciplinary records , level of education as well as number of years of experience in practice.
Choosing a high quality health plan, a high quality doctor plays a significant role in determining whether one will get high quality care (NCQA, 2011).This is the reason why the review of doctors’ report cards is becoming increasingly important to patients. It is, therefore, imperative to ensure that information displayed on the physician report cards is accurate. The extent to which that information’s validity and reliability is sound and dependable is a matter of high importance.
An assessment of the manner, in which evaluation of physicians is done as well as the gathering of information for the physicians’ report cards, points out to a fair and balanced handling of the matter. NCQA has been charged with the responsibility to assure quality health care. A part of this mandate includes the proper evaluation and assessment of physician information, the verification and publication of scorecards among others.
NCQA has refined the performance measurement process and led to the development of objective measures with their stranded measurement tool, the Health Care Effectiveness Data and Information set. The tool has been widely adopted in the industry in the development of physician report cards, because it allows provide a standardization of measurement, standardization of reporting and accurate objective side-by-side comparisons (NCQA, 2011).
This introduces a new level of fairness measures in the report cards. In the past, information for physician report cards obtained solely from claims data. In more recent times, however, the main source of information is obtained by self-reported records from the physicians. More information is still obtained from hospital administrative records about themselves for the report card. It is notably that physicians are encouraged to present self-reported information; this ensures that doctors have a chance to check up the information before publishing what is on their report card and, therefore, can choose to challenge information that they deem dishonest. Thus, the fairness in the report cards is improved. In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that physician report cards are a fair and balanced measure of physician information, which may be relied upon when selecting physicians for personal treatment. Although some may be concerned about the quality of these measures, for the most part data collected is statistically valid and accurate. The information held within the report cards is an accurate reflection of the quality of the physician.
The report cards were developed for sharing network with physicians. The intent was to inform the practicing physician how they compared to their fellow physicians and to provide information regarding best practices. This report illustrated the most efficient lowest cost pathway to achieve the best outcome for the patient (Stuble, 2011).
The extent to which the physician report cards provide the information, a consumer needs to make a medical decision, which is relative from person to person and their medical condition. Disclosure of physician information has the ultimate goal of enhancing patient`s autonomy and performance rates while improving decision–making and the overall quality of healthcare (Ingrid, Schill & Goodman,2007). Because of the high degree of accuracy used in the information gathering process, patients are assured of getting reliable information from the report cards. In their commitment to disclose useful information to consumers, the report cards support the patients’ decision–making processes by furnishing them with information about which physicians are ranked highly in their practices, and how their intended physician rank among their peers. This makes it easier for the patient to decide which physician to select. Disclosure concerning physician mal practices and possible suits in court as well as recorded in competencies in certain areas, disciplinary issues lets the patient know which physicians to avoid. Levels of experience and education in particular fields also helps patience to make informed choices about the levels of their intended physicians’ competencies in particular fields and their specific needs to a suitable physician. Though subject to a number of caveats about their design and structure, report cards have a beneficial impact on the quality of healthcare delivery in those region, where they are published (Esmail & Hazel, 2008).