Consumer Tolerance for Inaccuracy in Physician Performance Ratings: One Size Fits None

Publication Date: March 2007

Publisher: Center for Studying Health System Change

Author(s): Matthew M. Davis; Judith H. Hibbard; Arnold Milstein

Research Area: Health

Type: Brief


Health plans increasingly use physician performance ratings, but some physicians are concerned that measurement inaccuracies may jeopardize their reputations and livelihoods. Absent from the debate thus far are consumer views about how accurate physician ratings need to be for various uses. Consumer tolerance for inaccuracy in physician performance ratings varies widely, according to a new national study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC). At least one-third of adults have a low tolerance for inaccuracy (5 percent or less), but more than one of every five adults would tolerate ratings that were 20 percent-50 percent inaccurate. Consumers’ relatively higher tolerance for inaccuracy when used for public reporting and tiered networks may speed these uses of physician performance ratings by health plans. However, consumers’ lower tolerance for inaccurate ratings when choosing their own physicians and paying physicians for performance may hinder such uses.