AMA agrees to establish quality measures for doctors
In an agreement with some leaders of Congress, the American Medical Association (AMA) plans to develop nearly 140 standard performance measures in 34 clinical areas for physicians, the New York Times reports.

This move is part of an ongoing trend to apply pressure physicians to participate in some kind of quality measurement and cost data, usually called “pay-for-performance.” The pressure has primarily come from insurance companies, big employers and a few consumer groups.

This idea is somewhat connected to the overall Bush Administration objective, along with HSAs (health savings accounts) and other means, which would put more cost-related decisions in the hands of patients rather than insurance companies or providers.

It remains to be seen of course, but if more data are available on physician performance, one day perhaps patients will shop for doctors much like they shop for other things, by reading consumer reports. As far as Bush is concerned, such programs might help bring down healthcare costs – though probably not for a long time to come.

Predictably the idea of a pay-for-performance scheme is not popular with everyone, especially some doctors who worry that such a plan would cut their income or is otherwise not feasible given the limited amount of time that has been allotted to develop the program envisioned by the AMA and members of Congress.