AMA survey: Medicare PQRI needs improvement
Key elements of Medicare's Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI) must be improved so that physicians can successfully participate and use the information to increase the quality of patient care, according to a American Medical Association (AMA) survey of physicians, who participated in the PQRI during its first year of deployment.

More than six out of 10 physicians surveyed rated the program difficult and only 22 percent were able to download the PQRI feedback report for their practice. To maximize physicians’ experience with the program and to encourage more to participate, the AMA said that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) should place a greater emphasis on early education and feedback. In addition, Congress should allow CMS to develop a process that allows physicians to appeal CMS judgments on inaccurate reporting.

“The AMA survey shows a clear need for the program to be improved so that physicians can more easily participate and so that they and Medicare get greater value from the program,” said AMA board member Ardis Hoven, MD.

Of those who were able to access their feedback reports, AMA reported that less than half found the information instructive.

Of the physicians who asked for assistance from CMS, 59 percent rated their satisfaction with CMS responsiveness as no satisfaction to low satisfaction. Physicians who began reporting in July 2007 did not receive a feedback report until 12 months later, halfway through the program's second year, making it impossible to fix any reporting problems. AMA said that this may have contributed to the fact that nearly half of all PQRI participants did not receive any bonus payment. If reforms are not made to the program, physicians who participate in 2008 will not receive feedback reports until 18 months after initial reporting.

“It is our hope that CMS works with the AMA and uses this information to improve the PQRI so that more physicians can successfully participate in the program,” Hoven said. "Physicians need to be confident that the effort they put into participating in the PQRI is worthwhile for both their patients and their practice."