Better Performance Metrics Needed for Radiology

October 14, 2015

Performance data for radiologists significantly varies from nonradiologists.

Radiologists differ significantly in their performance metrics from other specialties, but more specialty-specific metrics are needed for better physician participation in programs, such as the CMS Physician Compare Initiative, according to a study published in the Journal of the American of Radiology.

Researchers from the Langone Medical Center in New York, NY and the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute, Reston, VA, sought to characterize and compare the performance of radiologists in Medicare’s new Physician Compare Initiative with that of other provider groups.

The researchers obtained publicly reported metrics from the CMS Physician Compare Initiative data; there were 900,334 health care providers listed, 30,614 of whom were radiologists. Comparisons were made among eight provider categories:[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"42347","attributes":{"alt":"metrics","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_6910934931804","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"4567","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 104px; width: 150px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"©Bloomua/Shutterstock.com","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

• Radiologists

• Pathologists

• Primary care

• Other medical subspecialists

• Surgeons

• All other physicians

• Nurse practitioners and physician assistants

• All other nonphysicians

The results showed that overall radiologist satisfaction of all six metrics was significantly different among radiologists than nonradiologists:

MetricRadiologistsNonradiologists
Acceptance of Medicare-approved amount as payment in full75.8%85.0%
Electronic prescribing11.2%25.1%
Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS)60.5%39.4%
Electronic health record participation15.8%25.4%
Receipt of the PQRS Maintenance of Certification program incentive4.7%0.3%
Million Hearts initiative participation0.007%0.041%

“Among provider categories, radiologists and pathologists demonstrated the highest and second-highest performance levels, respectively, for the two metrics (PQRS and MOC) with specialty-specific designs, but they ranked between fifth and eighth in all remaining non–specialty-specific metrics,” the authors wrote.

“The performance of radiologists and pathologists in Medicare’s Physician Compare Initiative may relate to the extent to which metrics are tailored to the distinct aspects of their practices as diagnostic information specialists,” they concluded.