Medica Launches Online Doctor Rating Program

Despite objections from the Minnesota Medical Association, Medica launched its Premium Designation system-which rates doctors based on the quality and cost-efficiency of their care.

Minnetonka-based Medica, Inc., on Wednesday launched an online program that rates doctors on quality and cost-efficiency.

The Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) recently criticized the program, called Premium Designation, and asked Medica to delay its launch. Patricia Lindholm, president of the MMA, said that the ratings are “unreliable and misleading.”

For example, the MMA said that Medica penalized a physician for failing to do a strep test when the test, in fact, was done. It also said that a review of a similar physician rating program in Massachusetts found that 22 percent of physicians were likely to be misclassified.

A Thursday morning phone call to a Medica representative to get the company's reaction to MMA's criticism of the ratings was not immediately returned.

The Premium Designation system evaluates physicians in four categories of primary care-family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics-and 16 categories of specialty care, including cardiology and neurology.

Physicians can receive a rating of two stars. One star means that the physician has met nationally recognized standards for delivering high-quality care. Two stars means a physician has been recognized not only for providing quality care, but also for meeting local benchmarks for providing cost-efficient care to their patients.

“They meet or exceed nationally recognized guidelines, and they're more likely to recommend the right tests and treatment at the right times,” Medica wrote on its Web site.

According to Medica's Web site, defining a physician as cost-efficient doesn't mean that its fees are always lower than others-it means that the doctor effectively uses health care resources, so that you get more for your health care dollar.

To learn more about Medica's methodology, or to search for a physician's rating, click here.

Medica is the state's second-largest health care insurer based on revenue, which totaled $3.4 billion during its most recent fiscal year. The company offers health savings accounts, consumer-directed high-deductible health plans, HMOs, and open-access and tiered network health plans.