Magazine article Medical Economics

What's Ahead

Magazine article Medical Economics

What's Ahead

Article excerpt

GAO: HEALTH-CARE REPORT CARDS HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO

Despite the growing demand for them, report cards on health plans' quality performance may be misleading, a General Accounting Office study suggests. That's because most health plans use their own criteria for collecting data and drawing conclusions.

According to the study, health-policy experts believe the reliability of report cards can be improved if health-care providers, administrators, consumers, and public officials jointly decide the type and amount of information that should be collected. They also suggest that an independent party verify data provided by individual plans.

The National Committee for Quality Assurance, meanwhile, will issue its report card on 21 health plans this month. Grades are based on HEDIS 2.0, a standardized set of quality indicators.

PHYSICIAN-PRACTICE FIRMS: IF YOU DON'T JOIN 'EM, BUY 'EM

Stocks of health maintenance organizations aren't bargains anymore, but it's not too late to cash in on a new segment of the booming managed-care industry: physican-management companies. These firms acquire medical practices and then sell their services to HMOs. Jason Rosenbluth, a health-care analyst with Volpe, Welte, & Co., a San Francisco brokerage, believes the companies have good growth prospects.

Three of the largest physician-management firms--Coastal Health-care Group, PhyCor, and Pacific Physician Services--are buying up practices at such a clip that their revenues are growing by 30 percent or more a year. …

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