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New England News

New Website Compares Primary Care Doctors In Mass.

Jim Levulis

A new website allows users to compare primary care doctors in Massachusetts.

HealthCareCompassMA is the brain child of Massachusetts Health Quality Partners. Barbara Lambiaso is a senior project manager with the non-profit coalition of physicians, hospitals and patient representatives.

“Many of the websites out there that collect information really collect individual comments and things like that,” Lambiaso said. “They might have some information that’s on the public record that might be pulled from boards of registration of medicine, but our site has sound statistically ratings that are based on national standards of care and also the voice of over 64,000 patients that have responded to our survey.”

Formed in 1995, the organization has been reporting doctor performance online since 2006, but its previous site did not have a user-friendly design. The new website allows users to review ratings for specific types of care across more than 400 primary care offices with at least three practicing doctors, according to Lambiaso

“We do try to report on measures that have some meaning around screening; like colorectal cancer screening, breast cancer screening, cervical cancer screening or chronic disease management like diabetes, asthma and medication management,” explained Lambiaso.

Lambiaso says a survey sent out to more than 200,000 patients shows practical measures play an important role in choosing a doctor.

“The information that really resonates with patients the most is the information around how well does your doctor communicate with you,” Lambiaso said. “How well does your doctor coordinate care? Meaning how well do they know what specialists you’re seeing and what’s happening in your life outside their office. How well do they share testing information and diagnostics with you? How well people feel respected? Also, there are certain access measures that we share as well. How does it take your doctor’s office to get back to you when you make an initial call? How long does it take for you to get an appointment?”

The organization hopes to make the site more interactive by adding blog sections and including information such as public transit and parking options, as well as languages spoken at the offices. Right now, users can search by location or doctor name. As chief medical officer at New England Quality Care Alliance, Dr. Mike Cantor is the physician representative to the MHQP board of directors.

“We share the data with the physicians so they can directly see what’s working for their patients, what’s not working and where there are opportunities to make improvements,” Cantor said. “We use that data help us improve our performance year after year.”

Barbara Anthony is the state’s Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs and Business regulation. She also serves on MHQP’s advisory board.

“Healthcare service is probably the only kind of service that you can even think of where you really don’t know much about the quality, price or cost to you before you obtain the service,” Anthony said. “You can’t think of anything else like that whether it’s a car, TV or anything. And, of course the point is health care is so much more important than any commodity we might buy or any other service.”

A state law which goes into effect October 1 will require all health insurance companies to provide service estimates online. To coincide with the law, Anthony says her office will launch a price transparency campaign to reset people’s attitudes that they control their healthcare choices and are entitled to information before making a decision. She says she has been pleased with what the insurance carriers are proposing.

“This is a competitive thing as well,” Anthony said. “Having a good cost estimator for your members will give some companies a competitive edge over others.”

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