As a reforming health system evolves in California and the rest of the nation, getting reliable, up-to-date comparisons of services and service providers will become increasingly important for everyone involved -- consumers, purchasers, providers and insurers.
The ratings landscape is growing. Nationally, there are Medicare report cards for hospitals and nursing homes.
Organizations long known for rating products and services in other industries -- Consumer Reports, JD Powers, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Moody's and others -- are increasingly turning their sights toward health care. Other organizations, such as Healthgrades, are forming specifically for health care assessments.
In California, the Office of the Patient Advocate offers an array of report cards, including its own on HMOs, PPOs and medical groups. It also provides links to ratings of Medi-Cal managed care organizations, Medicare physician groups, hospitals and long-term care facilities and CalPERS health plans.
With the spread of electronic health records and the accumulation of data they will generate, making comparisons will become easier and more prevalent.
There is resistance to ratings. A Forbes story, "Why Rating Your Doctor Is Bad For Your Health," posited that physicians -- and presumably other providers -- would change their practices to achieve better ratings, not necessarily to improve patient outcomes.
Ultimately, where is all this headed? We asked stakeholders and experts to weigh in on several questions: Will disparate rating mechanisms wielded by public and private groups continue to carve out pieces of the system to assess? Will there eventually be a recognized framework for comparisons? Will resistance to ratings grow or fade?
We got responses from: