September 25, 2012
Where To Search For Best-In-Class Doctors
by Karen Wolfe
Finding the right physicians for injured workers requires objective analysis of actual past performance, not patient opinions. Medical proficiency can be measured in terms of outcome, with the most positive outcomes evidenced by return to full work and reasonable medical costs. However, in Workers' Compensation even more focus should be placed on the course of the claim from the non-medical standpoint.
No doubt you have seen the ad for Angie’s List. A good-looking male doctor is pictured with the caption, “He has been nothing but focused, dedicated and concerned about my health and well-being.” If searching for a contractor or hair dresser, this might be a good start. But searching this way for doctors? Absurd!
Finding doctors for injured workers through Angie’s List is a recipe for disaster. Subjective rating of medical treatment is not valid. Few patients understand enough about the science of medicine to venture a worthwhile opinion.
Yet, the methodology behind Angie’s List is a relatively common practice in the Workers’ Comp industry. Employers and payers sometimes survey their claimants in an effort to evaluate doctors. Unfortunately, most claimants report whether the doctor’s office has snacks, magazines they like, and the doctor was nice. The information is hardly a basis for utilizing the doctor and is about as helpful as that found in Angie’s List.
Measuring Provider Performance
Finding the right physicians for injured workers requires objective analysis of actual past performance, not patient opinions. Medical proficiency can be measured in terms of outcome, with the most positive outcomes evidenced by return to full work and reasonable medical costs. However, in Workers’ Compensation even more focus should be placed on the course of the claim from the non-medical standpoint.
Workers’ Comp industry research has clearly identified the attributes of good and bad medical performance. For instance, Dr. Ed Bernacki of Johns Hopkins lists characteristics of “cost intensive” physicians. The study1, using data from the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corporation, found that 3.8% of physicians accounted for 72% of the costs. In other words, a small number of physicians have a profound impact on Workers’ Compensation costs. Bernacki’s study identified the characteristics of these cost intensive physicians. They are elements that can be found in the data and used to monitor and score provider performance.
MedMetrics uses the results of industry research studies to design its algorithms that evaluate and score provider performance. The research identifies provider characteristics and claim events under the influence of providers that should be measured. Using those indicators, providers can be compared in their jurisdictions with others in the same specialty to identify the best-in-class.
Medicine Is A Cottage Industry
Medicine in the US is a cottage industry, with services delivered by individuals to individuals. Consequently, it is difficult for any one organization to gather enough individual provider data to create a critical mass for measurement. The problem is complicated by the fact that in Workers’ Comp states vary in fee schedules and other legal requirements so it is not valid to compare data across jurisdictions. Nevertheless, provider performance is more accurate and fairer when evaluated across many claims.
The industry needs an independent organization to collect and analyze the data across multiple organizations so that provider performance can be measured more accurately.
Master Provider Index
MedMetrics is offering Master Provider Index. Data is collected from multiple participating organizations, then validated, and integrated. Provider performance is measured across multiple entities’ claims in a state, thereby creating a richer data resource. The combined data is analyzed and provider performance is scored. Finally, a quick-search is offered online so that best-in-class providers can be found in specific geo-zip regions on demand, on-the-fly.
Not Angie’s List
Master Provider Index is not Angie’s List by any means. Provider performance analytics are based on intelligence gained through industry research and performed on data from multiple organizations by state. Based on Bernacki’s study, one can assume saving up to 72% of costs by avoiding cost intensive physicians!
1Bernacki, et.al. “Impact of Cost Intensive Physicians on Workers’ Compensation” JOEM. Vol. 52. No. 1. January, 2010.