At the risk of alienating some of their network physicians, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee rolled out an online tool this week to nearly 2 million of its members that provides cost and quality information on its doctors. According to a news story published in the Tennessean, members of the state’s largest health insurer can now see information such as what other physicians billed for procedures within a certain specialty. They also can see a doctor’s record on whether they performed screenings that include things such as mammograms or a test for cervical cancer.Apparently, the tool has drawn criticism from some of the health plan’s providers who claimed this information ultimately could be used to steer consumers to the cheapest doctors, who may not necessarily be the best.
To appease these doctors, BCBST made changes to the tool including allowing physicians to add to their profiles information from their own medical records that aren’t a part of BlueCross’ claims data, on which the program is based. Paul Kulpa, the insurer’s program manager for consumer-directed health care products, told Tennessean that 700 physicians took that opportunity and updated their information.
This rollout may not be perfect, but is another step in the push toward more transparency in health care and to provide health plan members with the tools they need to become health care consumers by being able to screen and engage their doctors and to make informed decisions.
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