New Website Helps Patients Locate Primary-care Doctors

WATERTOWN — A new website, healthcarecompassma.org, aims to help patients in Massachusetts find the best primary care for themselves and their families.
The site was designed with input from consumers to make it easy to search and compare primary-care doctors’ offices based on how well doctors provide certain aspects of care, services, tests, and treatments.
“Primary-care providers serve a critical role in our healthcare system,” said U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. “Empowering people with information about providers will help them make important healthcare decisions. Better information moves the Massachusetts healthcare system toward greater transparency and makes it more consumer-friendly.”
Developed by Massachusetts Health Quality Partners (MHQP), an independent, nonprofit healthcare coalition, healthcarecompassma.org enables patients to search and compare more than 400 primary-care doctors’ offices across the state. The site uses two types of ratings to compare primary-care quality and performance:
Patient experience survey results from more than 64,000 patients show how well their primary-care doctors provide care. These ratings include aspects of care that are best reported by patients themselves, including how well doctors communicate with patients, coordinate patients’ care, and give preventive care and advice.
Clinical quality ratings show how well primary-care doctors provide their patients preventive-care services such as cancer screenings and well-child visits, and how well they manage chronic diseases, such as diabetes and asthma.
“It is important to have access to information that compares the quality of primary-care doctors’ offices because the quality of care you receive can vary depending on where you go for care,” said Barbra Rabson, president and CEO of MHQP. “And the quality information MHQP produces has the support of primary-care physicians in Massachusetts.”
The website also offers tips and tools to help patients and consumers identify ways to work more closely with their primary-care doctor to ensure that they are getting the most out of their office visits.
“The tools on this website help patients prepare to talk with their doctors about health issues that matter to them,” said Dr. Mike Cantor, chief medical officer at New England Quality Care Alliance, the physician network affiliated with Tufts Medical Center. “These conversations can help patients understand more about their health and improve communication and collaboration with their provider. The reports on the website are the same reports that help primary-care physicians and their teams improve the quality of care they provide.”
MHQP has been publicly reporting this information online since 2005. In 2012, MHQP partnered with Consumer Reports to publish its patient-experience survey results.
Barbara Anthony, undersecretary for the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, has been monitoring healthcare transparency activities to meet consumer needs. She sees the accessibility to information from many sources as a good thing.
 “Patients and families in Massachusetts want and need many types of information to help them make wise healthcare decisions,” Anthony said. “The quality ratings on healthcarecompassma.org are presented in a way that makes it easy for people use.”

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