Health plan adds rating system - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Health plan adds rating system

MINNETONKA, MN (NBC) - A Minnesota health plan is trying to change the way people choose their doctor with a new internet-based rating system called Premium Designation.

Medica, Minnesota's second largest health plan, hope consumers will now factor 'stars' into their decision.

"There's many factors that go into how a consumer makes a choice for just about anything, especially their doctor," Medica's Dr. Charles Fazio said. "That's a pretty intimate relationship and this is just another piece of information helps guide that choice."

Medica has started posting doctor ratings on its website, the result of a study of three years of medical claims data, analyzing how well doctors followed national standards for care.

Patients can see how their physician compares to others, one star for quality, a second star for efficiency.

While many doctors encourage comparison shopping, some claim when it comes to Medica's new rating system, the data is unreliable.

Dr. Benjamin Whitten practices internal medicine and is past president of the Minnesota Medical Association.

According to Whitten, Medica misclassified many doctors' specialties and said the data applies more to clinics rather than individual doctors.

Whitten wants consumers to be informed, but urges patients to wary of the stars.

"We think it's incredibly important and we also think it's incredibly important to do it right," Whitten said. "Look at the data, talk it over with their physician, with their clinic, but they should ask Medica in the future to do reliability testing on this data."

Medica officials said they will continue to fine tune the data and are working with individual doctors to fix mistakes.

"Today is a beginning, I would like to see this get better incorporate outcomes and satisfaction data into this, make the tool better over time," Fazio said.

Medica officials said Minnesota physicians scored the best compared to their colleagues in other parts of the country that use the same rating system.

Out of all 9,400 doctors reviewed, 50 percent received two stars and 20 percent received one star.

The rest either had no stars or there was not enough data to rate them.

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