government

Medicare Physician Compare website undergoes overhaul

Upgrades to the physician directory incorporate some changes suggested by the AMA to correct errors and improve the information available to beneficiaries.

By Charles Fiegl — Posted July 8, 2013

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

Medicare’s online directory of participating physicians has been reworked and redesigned in an effort to improve the accuracy of information on the site and make the search function easier to use.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services redid its Physician Compare website after errors were discovered throughout the site after its initial launch in December 2010. CMS technicians have worked to address these issues and build new features for patients to use when searching for medical care. The new version of the site went live June 27.

“Nearly a million physicians and other health care professionals serve the Medicare population,” CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement. “This vastly improved website will provide new information in an improved, easy-to-use format.”

The American Medical Association has worked with CMS on implementing changes to fix major frustrations with the system, such as incorrect addresses and listings showing physicians still at practice locations they left years ago. Physicians had provided input to ensure that the directory is accurate and useful for Medicare beneficiaries and participating doctors, said AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven, MD.

“We are pleased with several changes CMS has made to the site based on our recommendations, including using claims data to verify physicians’ demographic information, improvements to the search function related to how physicians and specialties are listed, and updating important data related to physicians’ credentials and participation in CMS health [information technology] and quality performance programs,” Dr. Hoven said. “The AMA looks forward to participating in focus groups to further evaluate and monitor the site’s new search function.”

The website was required by the Affordable Care Act. At the time, it used an existing health care directory of physicians as a foundation, and CMS programmers worked to incorporate features required by the law.

More ways to find care

The new version of the website has what it calls an intelligent search function. A patient can search for physicians in his or her area by ZIP code, city and state, address, or a landmark such as a mall or park. The beneficiary also can find a doctor by last name, specialty, or medical condition or body part. For instance, searching for the term “rash” will suggest in a drop-down box that patients choose a doctor specializing in allergy/immunology, dermatology, infectious disease or rheumatology.

Clicking the “Search Another Way” tab allows the patient to select a body part that needs medical attention.

Information about physicians still relies on CMS’ Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System, or PECOS. Errors introduced to Physician Compare stem from incorrect information in PECOS. However, the new version of Physician Compare also will use information from claims for Medicare services submitted by physicians. For instance, addresses submitted on claims can verify addresses as they appear on the website.

In addition, Physician Compare will update entries with changes made to enrollment status, such as a move to a new practice, on a quarterly basis. A physician’s profile page will include information on participation in Medicare incentive programs on quality reporting, electronic prescribing and use of electronic health records. In 2014, quality-of-care ratings for group practices will be added, and a similar system for individual physicians will be included in the future.

Back to top


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Finding a Medicare doctor — by body part

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services added a new search function on its redesigned Physician Compare website to help Medicare beneficiaries identify the specialists who best can treat their medical complaints. The search offers a dozen body part options and then suggests possible associated medical issues as well as specialties that might treat them.

  • Head
  • Neck
  • Chest
  • Arms
  • Hands
  • Abdomen
  • Back
  • Buttocks
  • Groin
  • Legs
  • Feet
  • Skin

Source: Medicare Physician Compare, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (link)

Back to top


External links

“Getting the Most from Physician Compare,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, June 26 (link)

Physician Compare, CMS (link)

Back to top


ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISE HERE


Featured
Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story


Read story

Goodbye

American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story


Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story


Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story


Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story


Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story


Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story


Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story