90% of States Fail on Physician Quality Transparency

The vast majority of the states received failing grades for not making physician quality data available to consumers, according to a new report.

The vast majority of the states received failing grades for making physician quality data available to consumers, according to a new report.

The Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute (HCI3) gave just two states an A and one a C — the rest received a D or a F.

“We’re 15 years out from the Institute of Medicine’s trailblazing report calling for the transformation of a ‘fundamentally flawed’ health care system, and for the most part we still have no idea of the quality of care delivered by the majority of physicians in the U.S.,” Francois de Brantes, HCI3 executive director and co-author of the report, said in a statement. “That’s not just shameful, but it unnecessarily puts patients at risk. By highlighting states that are making a conscious effort to provide data to consumers, we hope to encourage others to embark on similar efforts.”

California is the recipient of the lone C while Minnesota and Washington were the only two states to receive an A. The states were graded around criteria that included the percentage of health care professionals with publicly available quality information; the type of measurement provided (i.e. outcomes, process, patient experience); and the accessibility of the information.

“Close to 15 years after the IOM's Crossing The Quality Chasm, we have no idea, for the most part, on the quality of care delivered by the majority of clinicians in the U.S.,” authors de Brantes, Elizabeth Bailey, Jessica DiLorenzo and Michael Moses, wrote in the report. “That's not just shameful, it puts patients at risk every day, and we hope that highlighting States that have made a conscious effort to provide these data to consumers will encourage others to embark on similar efforts...”

In California, 37% of clinicians have transparent quality information. In Washington, it’s 55% of clinicians and in Minnesota, 66% of clinicians. Massachusetts received a D, but it was right on the cusp of being bumped up a grade. Other notable states include Oregon, with 30% of clinicians having transparent quality information, and Maine with 25% of clinicians.

In comparison, in both South Dakota and North Dakota, 0% of clinicians have transparent quality information.

According to HCI3, Minnesota’s statewide transparency initiatives have been ongoing for more than a decade and its online resource, HealthScores, provides quality reports as well as average cost comparisons for common procedures.

“The American public not only needs usable information about their health care, they have a right to it,” said Michael Painter, MD, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is working to make progress in available transparent quality information through its Aligning Forces for Quality communities. “In fact, it’s completely unacceptable, and arguably immoral, for people not to have that information at their fingertips. Without it people are essentially trying to make smart, informed decisions that impact their health and the health for their families in the dark.”