By Edgar Linares, NewsRadio 830 WCCO

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Soon Minnesota doctors will be rated like hotels and restaurants.

Medica‘s Premium Designation Program is set to be released on Wednesday on Medica’s website, but doctors from the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) want it delayed.

The program rated 9,500 Minnesota physicians in 20 different specialties with a 0- to 2-star rating. It rates doctors on quality and cost, similar to 144 other programs in other states.

“Out of the people who were scored, 70 percent got either a 1- or 2-star rating. And that’s in addition to 22 percent that didn’t have enough data to be scored,” said Dr. Charles Fazio, Medica’s chief medical officer.

Fazio says 70 percent is higher than other markets that have executed a similar program.

But the MMA doesn’t want the results released just yet. They say they want more time to review Medica’s data.

“We have concerns on how this study was conducted,” said MMA’s President Dr. Patricia Lindholm, adding that the results are premature. “How could they get all the detail on physicians on relatively limited data?”

The MMA reports they’ve thoroughly reviewed and analyzed Medica’s program and found three significant problems.

First, it lacks reliability testing to assure accuracy in physician’s results. Second, it lacks Minnesota Physicians involvement in its development. Third, it gave an inadequate timeline for physicians to review the results.

“We have serious concerns that this program will provide patients with unreliable and misleading information about costs and quality of care being provided by Minnesota physicians,” said Lindholm.

Fazio said they’ve had 150 people call Medica with questions and concerns about the data collected.

Lindholm said the report includes negative scoring for doctors who couldn’t treat patients who moved out of the area, or a negative score for a doctor who didn’t do a Pap smear screening on a patient with a hysterectomy.

“If someone brings a case like that to our attention, we look at the quality criteria that are involved,” Fazio said. “In that case the person could not have had a Pap smear, because of the past surgery, then we would make an exception.”

Lindholm said ratings were issued to Physicians in mid-December and that’s not long enough for doctors to review the information.

“And frankly, a lot of physicians didn’t notice the mailing from Medica,” said Lindholm.

Fazio added the program has been around since 2005 in other markets.

“It’s been well tested and well received,” said Fazio. “Practitioners got individual notification of this program in May of 2010, that this program was coming … what the nature of it would be … and all along we’ve been meeting with medical groups to tell them that there would be need for them to look at the information.”

Lindholm said the MMA doesn’t endorse this program but does endorse the rating of health systems.

“Such as clinics of Physicians at the group level, because that information can be used for quality improvement purposes,” said Lindholm.

Lindholm said the Minnesota Community Measurement has been ratings clinics for years. She said how Medica determined the ratings is basically a black hole to her and says Medica needs to be more transparent.

“When you rate a hotel, 1 to 4 stars at least they tell you the way they have ranked it a 1 or a 4. The amenities, the degree of service and so forth,” said Lindholm.

“Every doctor who’s been rated as part of the system has access to a website that is solely accessible to them that gives them patient-level detail about every single patient. About how those patients were assessed. About the resources that were used and whether or not we think the quality measures. And in each case, if they think there’s been an error they can come to us and we’ll evaluate and make adjustments as necessary,” said Fazio.

The Premium Designation Program will be posted on Medica’s website on Wednesday.

Comments (18)
  1. alan says:

    Oh, no – don’t question the doctor! They are GODS! Feedback only tarnishes their egos!

  2. j says:

    they should do the same for attorneys!

  3. aMD says:

    alan: I don’t think it has anything to do with tarnishing egos of physicians. I don’t think most of us have a problem with the data being out there, we just want it to be accurate and doubt the way this information was collected. For example, if I have a patient with diabetes who, despite my best efforts, continues to SMOKE, the patient and therefore I as a physician, don’t make “the grade”. MY performance as a physician is judged based on my panel of patients and what they are willing to do…NOT based on my advice, my recommendations or my best intentions. You’re over 50 and won’t have a colonoscopy? I get docked. You’re a woman over 40 who won’t have a mammogram…same deal. My EGO has nothing to do with it.

    1. Alan says:

      I have had so many encounters with doctors in the treatment of my chronically ill wife and my disabled daughter. By my experience, a large majority have memorized the symptoms of 100-200 conditions. The good ones realize when they are over their head when presented with something they don’t recognize, and send the person to a specialist. The bad ones (another large majority) try to cram your condition into one of their pre-defined little holes.

      I have come to realize the reality of the fact that an MD is a Master’s degree.

      1. Just Saying... says:

        I agree with Alan.

        And I could be wrong, have been before and will be again–I just have no problem admitting it 😉 But I was taught that if the next word begins with a consonant, you use “an” not “a.” So, if you use MD, you would preface it “anMD.” If you were spelling out Medical Doctor, you would use “aMedical Doctor.” Shouldn’t a supposed highly educated MD know that?

    2. teacher says:

      Welcome to the world of being a teacher with people constantly putting you down despite your hours spent pouring over your classroom of students. I can invest everything I’ve got into research based instructional strategies, but the kid didn’t catch on to vocabulary and language at an early age, so they’re not reading at grade level. Boom, I’m rated a poor teacher.

    3. OldGuy says:

      And when your 50 year old patient ends up wearing a colostomy bag as a result of your forcing him to submit to a colonoscopy, do you get dinged for that too? Without meaningful statistics, ratings, and believable information, how can you be surprised that patients distrust your recommendations? After all, you are only practicing medicine. Nobody wants to be a lab rat.

  4. Skeezer says:

    Let em have it. The ivory towers might actually get mud thrown at them. Oh no, what is a doctor to do ???

  5. Skeezer says:

    Dear aMD,

    Your post has 12 references to ‘I’ or ‘my’, and yet were to believe doctors don’t have egos. Try again.

  6. Victim Du Jour says:

    So if a Doctor refuses to give a prescription drug junky a fix, they can give the doctor a poor rating?

  7. Aurora says:

    As a healthy person with no doctor complaints, the rest of you should seriously examine yourselves and your comments. “Ivory Towers”? What is your problem? Be glad you live in a society where doctors are readily available and able to treat what ails you. Yes, they’re expensive. Because they went to school for almost a decade to do their best to heal the human body. Had a bad experience? Get over it! Not everything can be fixed! If all you can find in error in the MD’s posting is poor grammar, congratulatoions for totally missing his/her point. It must have taken the upmost concentration to avoid the actual issue.

    1. Just Saying... says:

      Take yourself pretty seriously, don’t you? If you can’t take a little tongue in cheek humor, get over yourself 😉 Be glad you live in a society where you can speak your mind and not killed or punished for it…

    2. WalkAMile... says:

      You are lucky you are a healthy person with no Dr Complaints. Obviously others have not been as fortunate and are very frustrated.. It sounds a little arrogant to tell people who have had a bad experience to “get over it.” Who knows what they’ve been through? I hope you didn’t mean it that way. It appears you have empathy for Dr’s, why not the suffering? This rating plan sounds like it needs work, but taking it out on ailing people isn’t going to solve anything either.

  8. The Complex of the Undereducated says:

    I find it believable, unfortunately, that people do not see that the “aMD” person is on the side of the patient, one who has a right to write an opinion about certain doctors. If the person had DR in their name, some people naturally have an inferiority complex and get all upset over nothing and call out stupid things such as grammer and the over usage of “I”. I agree with Aurora, get over it and get over yourself.

    1. Just Saying... says:

      Repeat what’s said above…

  9. a RN says:

    There are good and bad in every profession but this rating system doesn’t sound like it makes much sense. If you want to rate a doctor based on his/her bedside manner and how much you agree with him/her – good luck. I know many doctors who don’t have a good bedside manner or don’t give the patient what they want to hear or take (narcotics) but they’re excellent doctors. Do some need some work on their personality – sure. Do some make bad decisions due to a lack of concern or complacency for the patient? Of course. I’ve seen a few doctors listed on St.Paul/ Mpls – Best doctors in the twin cities- who are extremely questionable in my opinion in working with them over the years. It’s a flawed system but this list of doctors seems to be more reliable than the one proposed by Medica.

  10. Cheer Up! says:

    Doctors aren’t perfect, isn’t that why they “practice” medicine?

    Before you trash me, Aurora and Complex, it’s just a joke 😉

  11. OldGuy says:

    Not only does the state desperately need a doctor, clinic, and hospital rating system, but we need some useful information about procedure outcomes. Competent medical services are hard to find, expensive, and unreliable and patients are completely at the mercy of word-of-mouth recommendations because the state is too conservative to step on any corporate toes.

    Personally, I think hospitals and physicians should be forced to provide money-back warranties on their procedures. There is a lot of taxpayer investment in a physician’s education and a hospital’s physical plant. What we get back is exorbitant administrator salaries and the constant threat of bankruptcy from medical bills. If a procedure is so unreliable that a hospital and doctor are unwilling to warrant it for any period of time, that would be fair warning to patients. Currently, our system is buyer-beware with a ban on useful information.

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