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New California physician group ratings unveiled by Consumer Reports

Californians searching for a doctor have new ratings from Consumer Reports on 170 physician groups statewide.

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

Consumer Reports said the ratings showed 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 73 out of 100. Those lowest scores mean about half of patients at those medical groups didn't think their care was the best possible.

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

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Last year, that group surveyed 58,873 patients across California who had private health insurance. Their responses covered 170 primary-care and specialty physician groups, which together provide about 90% of the healthcare received by Californians.

The ratings are available in a special edition 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.

In statewide results, 26% of patients surveyed complained that doctors didn't always spend enough time with them. Forty percent said they couldn't always get an appointment right away.

When patients did arrive, 64% said they were not always seen by their provider within 15 minutes of their appointment time.

This new data could be useful for tens of thousands of Californians picking out new health plans and doctors under the Affordable Care Act.

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 available yet, but the parties involved said they are pursuing that.

Physician groups in Northern California performed better, on average, than those in Southern California, but the differences weren't big.

Kaiser Permanente medical groups had the highest scores across the Los Angeles area and in Orange County. Physician groups affiliated with UCLA and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center were also near the top of the rankings.

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

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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