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JAMA Patient Page
October 6, 2015

How to Use Online Clinician Rating Systems

JAMA. 2015;314(13):1418. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.11957

Every patient has a right to know about his or her clinician’s expertise and outcomes.

Online scoring systems are available that attempt to rate clinicians’ expertise and outcomes. These include Medicare’s Physician Compare (www.medicare.gov/physiciancompare/search.html), Consumers’ Checkbook’s Surgeon Ratings (www.checkbook.org/surgeonratings), and Propublica’s Surgeon Scorecard (projects.propublica.org/surgeons). Physician Compare has basic information about a physician’s qualifications and some clinical outcomes information (like how many patients in a clinician’s practice have good diabetes control). Consumers’ Checkbook and ProPublica attempt to display how often patients have complications after their operations. These systems try to identify clinicians who have acceptable results or rank them as being better or worse than average, but in the current format, these rating systems have significant limitations that make them of uncertain value for patients.

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