Importance: Physician attitudes about websites that publicly report health care quality and experience data have not been recently described.
Objectives: To examine physician attitudes about the accuracy of websites that report information about quality of care and patient experience and to describe physician beliefs about the helpfulness of these data for patients choosing a physician.
Design, participants, and measures: The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and a multi-stakeholder group developed and piloted two questions that were added to RIDOH's biennial physician survey of all 4197 practicing physicians in Rhode Island: (1) "How accurate of a picture do you feel that the following types of online resources give about the quality of care that physicians provide?" (with choices) and (2) "Which types of physician-specific information (i.e., not about the practice overall) would be helpful to include in online resources for patients to help them choose a new physician? (Select all that apply)." Responses were stratified by primary care vs. subspecialty clinicians. Summary statistics and chi-squared tests were used to analyze the results.
Results: Among 1792 respondents (response rate 43%), 45% were unaware of RIDOH's site and 54% were unaware of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)' quality reporting sites. Only 2% felt that Medicare sites were "very accurate" in depicting physician quality. Most physicians supported public reporting of general information about physicians (e.g., board certification), but just over one-third of physicians felt that performance-based quality measures are "helpful" (and a similar percentage reported that patient reviews felt are "helpful") for patients choosing a physician.
Conclusions: Physician-respondents were either uninformed or skeptical about public reporting websites. In contrast to prior reports that a majority of patients value some forms of publicly reported data, most physicians do not consider quality metrics and patient-generated reviews helpful for patients who are choosing a physician.
Keywords: physician rating; physician reviews; public reporting; quality of care; social networking.