A new treatment tracker tool allows patients to compare a physician to his peers, including what services he offers and rates charged. The information is based on newly released data on the services doctors provide in Medicare’s Part B program. You can use the tool to research in the following areas:
– Does your doctor perform more services and order more tests per patient than others in his or her specialty and state? Along the same lines, is your doctor’s cost per patient higher than peers? If your doctor is in the top 10 percent, you’ll see a note in red. It may be worth asking questions to ensure you are not being over-treated. More health care does not always equate to better health care.
– Are the most common services and treatments chosen by your doctor similar to others in the same specialty and state? Some doctors may be relying on unconventional or even questionable therapies that their peers do not. You may want to look for large gaps between where a service ranks for your doctor and where it ranks among similar providers. You’ll see an orange symbol in our app if one of a doctor’s services has been performed by five or fewer providers in his/her specialty and state.
– Are there drawbacks to the tests your doctor orders? Radiation exposure carries risks, and screening tests may turn up false positives or abnormalities that may not actually be health problems, such as a precancerous node that won’t develop into cancer. In addition, tests may add unnecessarily to your costs, via your co-pay, and to those of the government. It’s worth asking whether medical tests are necessary, especially if you have recently had similar tests.
– If you need a procedure, say a knee replacement or cardiac stent, does your doctor have much experience performing it? While this data only includes Medicare patients, it’s one indicator of how practiced a physician might be at performing a procedure. Studies show that doctors with more experience generally have better outcomes.
Better information leads to better treatment decisions. Also check out the complete patient guide for even more options.