Doctors frustrated by Medicare quality reporting data program

Reports took nine hours to download, doctors complain

Many doctors' practices that participated in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) quality of care reporting program in 2008 were unhappy with the form and content of the data they received in return, according to a new survey released by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

Fewer than half, of 48 percent, of the participating practices were able to successfully access their feedback reports from the 2008 Physician Quality Reporting Initiative, according to the survey of 429 practices released Feb. 17.

In 2008, it took participating practices an average of almost nine hours to successfully download the feedback reports, an increase from five hours the year before, the survey states.

Of those able to access their reports, two-thirds were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the effectiveness of the program in providing guidance to improve quality of care, the survey states.

“Data from this research shines a bright spotlight on the underlying administrative difficulties with this program," said Dr. William Jessee, president of the MGMA.

The reporting program is voluntary and is in its fourth year. Doctors who participate by submitting data to the program receive financial incentives in addition to feedback on their quality. Congress is considering changes to the program as part of health care reform legislation. In addition, the CMS is implementing a separate quality reporting initiative for physicians and hospitals as part of the distribution of $17 billion in funding for electronic health records.

However, the management association is urging Congress to modify the program to make the feedback more timely, useful and easier to access, and to set up an appeals process for providers who disagree with their quality ratings.

"Our members continue to express frustration over the unreasonable lag time between reporting PQRI data and receipt of the results," said Jessee.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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