Docs Find Medicare's Physician Compare Info Often Wrong

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  • May 13, 2011
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Could Medicare’s Physician Compare website be doing more harm than good? Misinformation and an inadequate search engine have physicians questioning the usefulness of this comparison tool for health care consumers, reports American Medical News.

The American Medical Association (AMA) recently solicited feedback from physicians about the site. According to the amednews May 9 report, “numerous practices from all over the U.S. reported that information was incorrect or missing. Typical errors were name misspellings, the inclusion of physicians who either had retired or died, and incorrect Medicare participation status.”
Some physicians also reported that, although they were listed in the database, their names didn’t appear when they performed a search unless they entered the exact key words included in the listing. For example, amednews staff writer Charles Fiegl explains, “Searching for optometrists by typing ‘Gillette, Wyoming’ or ‘Gillette, Wyo.’ gives the user an error message. But typing ‘Gillette, WY’ allows the user to find [optometrist Roger] Jordan, along with eight other optometrists within 15 miles of the city.”
The inaccuracies stem from those that already exist in Medicare’s Provider Enrollment, Chain, and Ownership System (PECOS), which is where the Physician Compare information comes from. If a physician’s information is wrong on the enrollment form or entered wrong into the database, those mistakes will carry over to the Physician Compare website.
Physicians are advised to check their information on the Physician Compare website. If mistakes are found, go here to learn how to update your Medicare enrollment information.

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