Stuck waiting for the doctor? Check ratings on state physician groups

Survey: 37% of Californians said they were seen by the doctor within 15 minutes of appointment time

Californians wanting to check up on doctors have new ratings from Consumer Reports on more than 170 physician groups statewide.

The scores released this week are intended to help consumers see how different medical offices stack up on providing care and dealing with patients.

In Southern California, doctors affiliated with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente and HealthCare Partners earned some of the highest ratings.

In statewide results, 25% of patients surveyed complained that doctors didn't always spend enough time with them. Forty percent said they couldn't always get appointments right away.

When patients did arrive, only 37% said they were always seen by their doctors within 15 minutes of their appointment times.

The data come from the California Healthcare Performance Information System, a nonprofit collaboration among health plans, employers, providers and consumer groups.

The group surveyed more than 52,000 patients across California who had private health insurance. Their responses covered more than 170 primary-care and specialty physician groups, which together provide about 90% of the healthcare received by Californians.

The results showed that all California physician groups had room to improve and that patients' experiences vary widely.

For instance, in the Los Angeles area, patients' views on their overall care ranged from 51 to 72 out of 100 (the most positive rating). Those lowest scores mean about half of patients at those medical groups didn't think their care was the best possible.

There were also differences by region.

In the Bay Area, Consumer Reports said that more than one in four medical groups earned a score of 70 or higher for overall care.

However, only one of 23 physician practices in East Los Angeles topped that score and one in 24 for Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Group led the L.A. Westside rankings with a score of 72. Kaiser medical groups were the highest rated in the San Fernando/San Gabriel Valley, Orange County and the Inland Empire.

The ratings are available in the February issue of the Consumer Reports magazine and online at www.calqualitycare.org, a free website run by the California HealthCare Foundation that also offers information on other medical providers.

This data could be useful for tens of thousands of Californians picking out new health plans and doctors under the Affordable Care Act. Open enrollment for individual coverage runs through Feb. 15.

Dr. John Santa, medical director for the Consumer Reports health ratings center, said making this performance data available “leads to one of the most powerful forces driving improvement – educated healthcare consumers.”

Medical groups were rated on communication with patients, timely care and service, coordination of care and the helpfulness of office staff. Data on individual doctors isn't published yet.

Consumer Reports has done similar doctor ratings in Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Twitter: @chadterhune

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
83°