Could CMS start 'physician profiling' in the near future?

August 1, 2007

Yes, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services could start a program to compare physicians' volume and intensity of services against one another as early as the middle of 2008, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Yes, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services could start a program to compare physicians' volume and intensity of services against one another as early as the middle of 2008, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Proponents of resource use comparison-also known as physician profiling-claim that the collected data could help individual doctors and groups to see how they stack up against their colleagues when treating a particular patient condition. This knowledge, in turn, could spur physicians to shift their treatment practices-whether it's providing more services for a patient population or reducing services-to match their peers, reported American Medical News (6/25/2007).

Some physicians remain wary of resource use comparison programs, however. They caution that these programs can be helpful as long as the feedback is kept confidential. They also warn that these programs should not penalize doctors when the government finds that the volume or intensity of services is too high.