In the latest salvo in the pay-for-performance medicine, one of the Triad's largest insurers United Healthcare, is rolling out a controversial plan to rate physicians on its network based on the quality of care provided by them.
This means that patients will be allowed to choose the doctor rated best by the insurer as well as by other patients. Naturally, doctors are not amused by this idea. United Healthcare members will have the option of checking out the ratings of their doctors in an online directory that is to be formatted for this purpose. It is thought that the directory would be operational by next spring. United Healthcare says that this step has become necessary since a lot of clients are demanding quality performance since they shell out a lot of money for their health. But doctors say that United Healthcare's physician-rating program is not error-free and is unfair at best. They say that the idea is good, but opine that in the drive to save costs, patients' health could be adversely affected. As healthcare costs spiral northwards, patients want to see the track records of their physician as regards quality and efficiency. This means that some system to measure the same should be arrived at. 'That is something that is critical for the success of the consumerism movement, or the consumer-driven health plans that we've all been buzzing about,' said Steve Graybill, senior consultant for Mercer Human Resource Consulting in Charlotte. 'It's all about building a Consumer Reports for health care.'
Although other insurers like Cigna and Blue Cross as well as the Medicare program have tentatively started on this road to measure the efficiency, United Healthcare is the first insurer to rate physicians or attempt to do so. Patients and physicians would be equally interested to see how this works out.