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Physician Compare Development: Goals and Milestones

Physician Compare officially launched on December 30, 2010. Over time, CMS has continually worked to make the site function better, improve the information available, and provide useful information about physicians and other clinicians who take part in Medicare. This ongoing effort helps Physician Compare serve its two-fold purpose:

  • Provide information to help people with Medicare make informed decisions
  • Incentivizes clinicians and groups to maximize their performance

The underlying data source for Physician Compare is the Medicare Provider Enrollment, Chain, and Ownership System (PECOS), which is the system Medicare uses to enroll and revalidate physicians and other clinicians. Since then, a number of developments to the website have been made through frequent releases to improve the user experience.

What major enhancements were made to Physician Compare?
What future enhancements are planned for Physician Compare?
How can Physician Compare users provide suggestions or feedback about the website?

What major enhancements were made to Physician Compare? 

In 2013, CMS redesigned Physician Compare to improve the accuracy of information and enhance the user experience. The redesign included an overhaul of the underlying database to ensure that Physician Compare is as up-to-date as possible. In addition, CMS implemented a range of features to simplify navigation and improve the user’s ability to find and choose Medicare clinicians and groups within a geographic area. These features include the Intelligent Search functionality, the option to view search results in map view, a body part guided search functionality, and a group compare feature.

In 2017, Physician Compare introduced 5-star ratings for a subset of group-level quality measures. The Physician Compare team searched for an appropriate benchmark methodology to use as a foundation for a 5-star rating. In 2014 and 2015, the Physician Compare team conducted outreach with a wide array of stakeholders to evaluate the best approach for a benchmark, given the measures available for public reporting through PQRS and the goal of adding star ratings to Physician Compare. After hearing what stakeholders wanted to see in a benchmark and understanding the concerns and cautions raised, the Physician Compare team proposed an item (or measure)-level benchmark using the Achievable Benchmark of Care or “ABC™” methodology. This benchmark was finalized in the 2016 Physician Fee Schedule final rule. For the first time in December 2017, a subset of group-level PQRS measures were added to Physician Compare as star ratings.

Additional enhancements to the website were made to bring users the best possible web experience that reflects current industry best practices:

  • New overall layout design: This includes a user-friendly display and design consisting of a single-page layout to create an enhanced user interface and navigation across the website.
  • Enhanced and optimized Intelligent Search functionality: The Intelligent Search, or “Did you mean” section of the drop-down box in the main search, provides suggestions if the user’s search term doesn’t match any keywords. This feature streamlines the search process and allows users to more accurately and easily find what they’re looking for.
  • Browse by specialty from A to Z page: This page allows users to select from an alphabetical list of specialties available on Physician Compare to find specialists in their area.
  • Combined results page: With the combined results page, users get a streamlined list of clinicians and groups in their area. This page allows users to see groups that clinicians are part of to help them better understand their health care options.
  • Filter menu: The updated filter menu on the combined results page includes new filter options, including Medicare assignment status, gender, and board certification, to help users narrow their search and give them the results they want.
  • Ability to compare individual clinicians or groups: The new compare tool allows users to see side-by-side comparisons of up to three individual clinicians or groups. Users can compare basic information such as distance, whether they accept Medicare assignment, and specialty information.

What future enhancements are planned for Physician Compare? 

Over the next several years, the performance information available for public reporting on Physician Compare will continue to expand. To learn more about public reporting, visit the Quality Measures and Physician Compare Section.

How can Physician Compare users provide suggestions or feedback about the website?   

CMS values suggestions from website users on ways to improve Physician Compare. You can email feedback and/or questions to the Physician Compare support team at PhysicianCompare@Westat.com.