Medicare Physician Compare Fail

This scathing blog post by Michael Millenson concerning the U.S. Government’s new site to help patients locate Medicare providers caught my eye. Medicare’s new Physician Compare was designed to allow consumers to learn more about their providers. Here’s a little background on the site.

After reviewing the site and doing some searching for physical therapists, I have to concur with Millenson. The site is a bust. It should be re-named, “Pointless Partial List of Participating Providers.” I know they are planning to add more content over the next few years, but why start out with such nothing to begin with? It lacks patient-centric factors or any potential interactivity like maps or web-sites. It certainly doesn’t compare anything.

Sites like do a much better job of providing some form of information that’s useful, but where are physical therapists on these sites? Consumers are presently lacking a good site to compare providers of physical therapy. As a profession, we can’t leave it up to big Physician sites or the federal government. We need to actively reach out to consumers and show them who we are. Thoughts?

4 Replies to “Medicare Physician Compare Fail”

  1. Did anyone read my response to David Whelan at Forbes? I’m all for correct data and being I wrote an EMR year back kind of get the drift on this stuff with consulting with MDs.

    Anyway, a lot of the data is flawed and myself and some MDs did some homework here as we wanted to see the real story. If you go back to my September article of last year where I found my deceased former MD doctor on HealthGrades, Vitals and so on still listed as practicing and taking HealthNet.

    I’ll provide some links for the history here but they were not upgrading their data base, flawed with many errors and on top of that a private equity firm, Vestar about six months ago paid big buck for HealthGrades.

    The AMA and myself had a nice little interview and talk about this which was also published on their website too.

    There are lots of dead doctors, retired doctors, doctors connected with hospitals they have never set foot in and it was on 8-10 sites where many appear to be drinking the same data base Kool Aid. Here’s the original article and I might also add you might want to think about not believing everything 100% you see on the web.

    So moving along another company says they have a good MD referral site, AVVO, who does the same for lawyers, same dead doctors, mistakes and more.

    In talking with one MD, he found Healthgrades had an executive of an IPA, who had never been a doctor listed, so again if you are an MD, then I would check out your listing.

    The data for the commercial folks comes from insurance companies and state medical boards, and also there are those who commit fraud and find out who is not updated and can find a dead doctor NPI and find holes to send fraudulent claims, so they mine the web too.

    So in doing my comparison, I also looked at the commercial compared to CMS and wrote about the fact that again we find some of the same dead doctors and numerous other flaws. Healthgrades admittedly so said they have dead doctors listed and are working to improve their system and what all of these folks need to at least remove the dead doctors is to use the social security death index, so in this instance the best source for flaws with dead doctors is a government data base. Is anyone doing this, doesn’t look like it.

    Now in following this along with some input from doctors who looked at their own areas, yes CMS had some missing data but you can read the comments by one MD which I put on the post, he said in his area unlike Healthgrades, AVVO and Vitals, there were no dead doctors but he found other items missing and that seemed more of the case of missing data with his comments on the CMS site, it was less flawed but lacked some detailed information.

    I might also add I had a reader comment on the fact that they enrolled for the additional information from Healthgrades for a monthly fee and they said they are having one heck of a time getting that monthly charge off their credit card as it did not appear to be working for them or was a service they felt they did not need.

    Getting back to my case with my former doctor of 8 years still being listed, the widower of my deceased former doctor had tried several times to have her removed to no avail and for 8 years had to leave the message of disconnect on the former office phone number that it had been disconnected too, phone company could not even re-use that number for 8 years.

    Again, I’m all for accurate and truthful data but before making an opinion on some of this, what I always say is there’s nothing like first hand information and go look for yourself first and see what you come up with as again with opinions today every thing might not be 100% fact. I work with data bases so perhaps I might zero in faster when I see signs of something not being correct.

    One final item here is you may want to look at the Dow Jones lawsuit against CMS too and if you are a doctor, take at a look at what I had to say here as the Dow Jones and WSJ seem to think any old company could take this information and put it out there in a format for average readers to see on what Medicare has paid doctors over the years, and we all know there will be tons of errors with the billing data base? If you are an MD, do you want to see this out there, mistakes and all?

    Give it some thought as I said if companies like Healthgrades supply such flawed information and if they were given the contract (and it would make $ for the PE too) as an example, would you trust that information and what are the unintentional consequences of this data being out there to only confuse consumers more.

    Myself I think it would be a huge distraction and show MDs in an even less favorable manner and sure law enforcement should have access themselves, but what is this going to prove? Sure there could be information on Dr. Justice as an example who is still listed all over the place on currently seeing Medicare patients on Healthgrades, CMS and pretty much all of them, even though his sentencing for Medicare fraud comes up in February and this was the second time he was caught.

    CMS said they are working on round 2 and we can watch and see if they get their data work better with the update but again for now, if you think the commercial sites are doing a better job, well look again. I have a few more articles on this topic but these are the meat and potatoes here on this topic of MD referral sites.

  2. Hey Eric

    As always..nice post. Lets remember all this Medicare stuff as we head into Federal Healthcare Reform…and the Federal Government takes yet a LARGER role in Healthcare.
    Not that Im against Healthcare reform……but when the Feds have Medicare as “their history of taking care of healthcare”…not sure I want them in this business. I always found it interesting during the Healthcare Reform Debate how neither Party talked much about Medicare?!? Hmmmm?


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