I have great admiration for the Massachusetts Health Quality Partners. The mission is sound, and the organization uses what exists to good purpose.
But this post is about what exists, and it is not good enough. MHQP just published its annual review of primary care practices in the state, available here. You would like to think that you could use the information provided to conduct a comparative review of your MD's practice group compared to others, looking at compliance with generally accepted guidelines.
But you can't. Why not? Because the data are old.
If you review the report's technical appendix, you find that "This report provides information on the 2009 performance of Massachusetts Medical Groups on the selected HEDIS® Measure Set. ...The measurement periods vary somewhat by measure, but in general, HEDIS® 2010 measures report on performance during calendar year 2009."
What would be really useful is current information.
The data for this report come from the five major Massachusetts health plans. I have heard over and over from these insurers about the advanced information systems they have in place. So why does it take so long to collate rather simple data from that which was collected well over a year ago?
In contrast, let's look at the currency of the auto repair data provided by Consumer Reports. Here's how they do:
All our reliability information is completely updated annually. We begin sending out each year's survey in the spring. By late summer, we have collected and organized responses, and we complete our analysis and update the information online by late October. The new information first appears in print in the Consumer Reports Best & Worst New Cars, on newsstands in mid-November. ...All reliability information we publish is based on subscribers' experiences with cars in the 12-month period immediately preceding the survey.
How about airline on-times rates? Collected monthly, reported within three months. Curious about annual figures on that metric, but also many other quality metrics that might influence your choice of carriers (flights cancellations; chronically delayed flights; causes of delays; mishandled baggage; bumping; incidents involving pets; complaints about service; complaints about treatment of disabled passengers; discrimination complaints? Within two months of the end of the year.
The Boston transit system -- not always viewed as the paragon of efficiency! -- on-time rates? Monthly, published within weeks.
Don't you think we deserve more timely information about the quality of our primary care group than we can get about cars, airplanes, and commuter rail?