New Customer Service Data Available On California Medical Groups

Californians looking for more information about their doctors can now turn to a statewide website that includes new data on 170 physician groups.

The website rates medical groups based on patients’ survey responses on access, care and customer service. Patients can compare doctor groups on such criteria as how easy it was to get appointments, how helpful the office staff was and how effectively the doctors communicated.

The California HealthCare Foundation made the physician data available on the free site, calqualitycare.org, through a partnership with Consumer Reports Health and the nonprofit California Healthcare Performance Information System. The website also includes ratings on hospitals, nursing homes and hospice providers.

“It’s a one-stop shopping experience,” said Andy Krackov, senior program officer at the California HealthCare Foundation.

The medical group data, which covers both primary care and specialty physician groups, is also available through a special insert in the February edition of Consumer Reports magazine.

Physician groups performed slightly better in Northern California than in Southern California, according to the data. Among the highest performers statewide were Kaiser Permanente, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, St. Joseph Heritage Medical Group and UCSD Medical Group. (Kaiser Health News is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.)

The ratings come as consumers are signing up for insurance coverage through the nation’s 2010 health law. As consumers make their decisions, they will be able to learn more about the quality of health care options in their neighborhoods, Krackov said.

In addition to educating consumers, the ratings may help spur competition among physician groups and lead to better care and customer service, said Dr. John Santa, medical director of Consumer Reports Health. The medical groups rated provide about 90 percent of health care for Californians, Santa said. The ratings do not cover individual physicians and are not based on clinical outcomes.

AnnaG@Kff.org