Annual Meeting

Doctors vote for improved data, price transparency measures

Physicians at the 2015 AMA Annual Meeting voted Monday to adopt new policies to improve data and price transparency.

A report from the AMA Board of Trustees outlines resources physicians need to benefit from ongoing data transparency efforts, including:

  • Increased physician engagement in transparency efforts, such as leading the development of quality measures
  • Improved access to timely data that can inform choices at the point of care
  • Fewer barriers to accessing information from other payers and care settings
  • Developing user interfaces and analytics that allow physicians or their staff to ask simple queries and get actionable reports

The principles will help the AMA improve the quality of patient care and promote new payment and delivery models. See the full list of principles at the bottom of the page.

Another report, this one from the AMA Council on Medical Service, included new policies to help physicians engage in price transparency efforts to assist patients in making informed health care decisions. The report calls for:

  • Encouraging physicians to communicate cost information to individual patients, taking into account insurance status and other mitigating factors
  • Facilitating price and quality transparency
  • Creating safeguards to ensure accuracy and relevance of pricing information
  • Requesting the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expand its Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Look-Up Tool to include hospital outpatient payments

The new policies strengthen the AMA’s existing work on transparency issues. Following CMS’ release of Medicare claims data in 2014, the AMA urged the agency to develop and refine a more selective, actionable data set. Earlier this month when CMS again released data on the medical services physicians provide, the AMA provided context to physicians and the media.

Data transparency principles

  • Increase physician engagement in transparency efforts, such as leading development of quality measures.
  • Secure funding and support that can ensure the availability of data to inform new payment and delivery models and don’t impose additional costs or burdens on physician participants.
  • Make sure data are presented appropriately, depending on the objective and end-user. This should include transparently identifying what information is provided, for what purpose, and how it can or cannot be used to influence care choices.
  • Develop user interfaces that allow physicians or their staff to ask simple queries and get actionable reports for specific patients, peer comparisons, provider-level resource use, practice patterns and other information.
  • Encourage patients to consult with physicians to understand and navigate health care transparency and data efforts.
  • Inform other consumers about proactive use of health care data through physician involvement with other stakeholders.
  • Remove barriers to accessing more information from other payers and care settings.
  • Use and increase access to timely data. For example, government reports should be made available from the previous quarter.
  • Support proper oversight of entities that access and use health care data, including more stringent safeguards for public reporting.
  • Use quality data, including definitions of quality that come from evidence-based guidelines, specialty society-developed measures and physician-developed metrics that focus on patient outcomes and engagement.
  • Increase data utility by assisting clinical data registries, regional collaborations and specialty societies to work together.
  • Improve electronic health records and other technology that can capture and access data in standardized formats.
  • Reduce burdens on physicians by limiting data reporting requirements to information proven to improve clinical practice.
  • Avoid attribution errors in data, a current problem that should be addressed at the system level.