KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

New Poll Finds Consumers Have Trouble Comparing Physicians’ Quality Of Care

Also in the news, many specialists are calling foul on new recertification rules, which they say are creating a never-ending process.  

The Associated Press: Before Doctors Check Your Vitals, Check Theirs
Americans consider insurance and a good bedside manner in choosing a doctor, but will that doctor provide high-quality care? A new poll shows that people don’t know how to determine that. Being licensed and likable doesn’t necessarily mean a doctor is up to date on best practices. But consumers aren’t sure how to uncover much more. Just 22 percent of those questioned are confident they can find information to compare the quality of local doctors, according to the poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research (7/20). 

Kaiser Health News: Docs Slam Recertification Rules They Call A Waste Of Time
Many specialists are balking at what they say are onerous new rules to get recertified, warning the demands will force some physicians out of practice at a time when the nation faces a shortage. Doctors say the new requirements have made maintaining specialty certifications a process that never ends. Younger doctors already retake the arduous certification exam every seven to 10 years to keep their credential, long considered the gold standard of expertise. But physicians of all ages must now complete a complex set of requirements every two to three years, or risk losing their certification (Rabin, 7/21).

In other medical practice news -

Modern Healthcare: Specialists See Little Change in Compensation, Survey Finds
The pay cut for radiation oncology was the largest year-over-year change seen in the 2014 survey, which compiled data from 13 recruiting firms, consultants and professional organizations. Most of the 23 specialties tracked by Modern Healthcare saw little or no income gain or loss. Twelve specialties saw increases, while 11 reported decreases. But with a few exceptions, most of the changes were statistically insignificant. Experts say there are many reasons for the flat income trend, including the sluggish economy, the slow transition from volume- to value-based payment, growing physician employment, productivity-enhancing technology, productivity-depressing electronic health records, a declining U.S. birth rate, lower utilization, lower insurer payments and younger physicians' desire for fewer work hours (Robeznieks, 7/19).

ProPublica: Error: You Have No Payments From Pharma
The federal government has a word for physicians who don’t have financial relationships with pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers: “Error.” This week, the government began allowing doctors to log into a secure website to check the payments attributed to them by drug and device makers. This information will be made public later this year under the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, a part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. In advance, if doctors believe the material about them is wrong, they can contest it (Ornstein, 7/21).

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