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Data Changes the Doctors' Game

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, August 23, 2012

For those Midwest physicians who agreed to get an early taste of the move from fee-for-service to value, they haven't shown that they liked the data collection process very much—at least in early reports. The Medicare contractor for the area emailed the physician practices a web link to access the reports, but only 3,300 out of 23,730 downloaded them as of April, about 18%, giving a "cold shoulder" on filing the reports, according to the American Medical Association (AMA). Further updates haven't been released.

Last month, the AMA and more than 60 organizations pledged to help physicians better improve use of the data, which includes insurer information, to "enhance the quality and value of patient care."

Brennan concedes that some physicians are exasperated with the weekly and monthly flow of information. CMS wants the physicians to sort through the material, and evaluate their own practices. Unfortunately, some docs are overwhelmed. "We're physicians, not data analysts," Brennan recalled some physicians complaining.

Physician trepidation is not without merit, Brennan said, citing individual practioner concerns over privacy issues, for instance. "There is tension, of course," he said, noting that the government is working diligently "so we don't compromise individual privacy. We're trying to deal with that tension," he said.

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