Quality Report Cards have Limited Impact on Care, AMA Says

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Patients who rely on CMS quality metrics when selecting their diagnostic imaging provider might find that information doesn’t matter so much.

A national study from Health Affairs found that on the whole, patients paid little attention to quality report cards; moreover, the AMA cautions against the idea that publishing such measures leads to any meaningful difference in health outcomes.

“The effort reduced the odds of a heart failure patient dying within 30 days by only 3%,” the AMA notes. “Heart attack and pneumonia patients saw no improvement in death rates.”

The study analyzed the number of Medicare patients who died from heart attacks, heart failure, and pneumonia over eight years, both before and after the establishment of the federal Hospital Compare website.

As CMS works to deepen the data provided by its Physician Compare website, lead author Andrew Ryan, PhD, says that physician report cards “are probably not game-changers,” AMA reports.

Critics of the study further point out that measuring quality in terms of mortality rates offers a limited perspective on improvement. Additionally, many factors prevent patients from basing their care decisions exclusively on digital rankings, including relationships with their caregivers and the clarity with which such rankings are communicated.

“Metrics chosen should be based on accurate information, developed by organizations such as the AMA-convened Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement, and never based solely on care utilization or cost,” the AMA says.