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California's Office of the Patient Advocate to Add Medical Groups to State Report Card on HMOs

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San Francisco, CA, May 15, 2002 - In a move to help consumers reach better-informed health care decisions, the state Office of the Patient Advocate (OPA) is adding a report card on medical groups to the HMO report card it launched last year. The updated report card will be published online (http://opa.ca.gov/report_card/) and in print in late September.

Selected in a competitive bidding process, the Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH) will add the medical group information to the 2002 report card. OPA directed PBGH to build the report card last year to carry out Gov. Gray Davis's intention that consumers have tools to help them understand the managed health care system and make informed choices about their health.

When HMO enrollees pick a personal physician to manage their care, they are often in effect selecting a medical group—a choice that often determines which specialists and hospitals they will have. This fall, when millions of Californians face open enrollment, they will be able to use OPA report cards not only to find the best health plan for them, but also a medical group that fits their needs.

For example, which medical groups score high on patient-physician communication? Which ones' doctors spend the most time with patients? The new report card will include data on 81 medical groups providing care for more than 10 million commercial and Medicare HMO enrollees and point-of-service (POS) enrollees—72 percent of California's HMO-POS market.

The medical group information will come from the 2002 Consumer Assessment Survey, a major survey of patient experience at the medical group level. The standardized survey is used to measure consumers' access to primary and specialty care, patient-doctor communication, overall ratings of care, and preventive care counseling.

"The state's report card has helped tens of thousands of Californians make better-informed choices about which HMO will be best for them," said Steve McDermott, CEO of Hill Physicians, one of the participating medical groups. "The new report card will provide quality indicators for medical groups, which for most HMO enrollees is their direct point of contact with the health care system."

In its second year, the Consumer Assessment Survey is a groundbreaking collaboration by PBGH, the California Cooperative Healthcare Reporting Initiative (CCHRI), seven health plans and 81 California medical groups. CCHRI is a collaborative of health care purchasers, plans and providers that promotes collaboration in data collecting and reporting. It engages in many data-collection initiatives, tests new measures and publishes a yearly report with performance data. Participating health plans provide health benefits to nearly 95 percent of the state's commercial enrollment.

"California's health plans and medical groups have worked together in CCHRI to standardize the measurement of patient experience at the medical group level," said David Hopkins, PhD, Director of Quality Measurement and Improvement at PBGH and manager of CCHRI.

"This second-year report card effort brings valuable information to consumers, especially by adding medical group survey results," said PBGH President and CEO Peter Lee. "We are pleased that the public-private effort of OPA and PBGH will make the information widely available to California consumers."

The HMO report card debuted last year online and in print, with a Spanish print version. The online version included report cards in Spanish and Chinese. This year, the entire Web site will be available in both Spanish and Chinese. Sources of information on health plans include consumer experience surveys, performance measures such as immunizations and mammography screenings, and outcomes measures such as the percentage of diabetics receiving retinal eye exams.

"OPA is combining the power of the Internet with cutting-edge quality information," said Ted von Glahn, Director of Consumer Information and Activation at PBGH. "The enhanced report card should be welcomed by consumers hungry for meaningful health care information."

Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH), a major non-profit coalition of 48 purchasers, is dedicated to improving health care quality and availability while moderating cost. Its members annually spend nearly $4 billion to provide health coverage to approximately 3 million employees, retirees and their families. PBGH seeks to promote health plan and provider accountability and to provide consumers with standardized, comparable data to make the best health care decisions at all levels of care. PBGH also operates PacAdvantage, a small group purchasing pool providing health insurance to 147, 000 employees and their families in more than 11,000 small employer groups in California.

Contact:
Clark Miller
Senior Communications Manager
Pacific Business Group on Health
Telephone: (415) 615–6302
E–mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
 

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