Health-care IT: Georgia to launch consumer-focused "transparency" health Web site

November 26, 2008

Georgia plans to unveil in December a consumer-focused "transparency" health website that will contain quality and cost information on the state's hospitals.

Georgia plans to unveil in December a consumer-focused “transparency” health Web site that will contain quality and cost information on the state’s hospitals.

The Georgia Department of Community Health currently has no plans to list quality ratings or cost data on the state’s physicians on the site, but will list whether doctors have had formal complaints or disciplinary actions filed against them, a spokeswoman for the department says. Adding cost information on individual doctors “could be considered” in the future, she says.

The site will contain information on the availability of care, as well as health education materials, such as prevention, wellness, and disease management information – much of it supplied by the Mayo Clinic.

“The expectation is that this will be the one central site you can go to to get all of your health information,” says Renea Steele, director of Georgia’s Office of Health Information and Transparency.

The hospital quality and cost data will come from the Georgia Hospital Association. The site, to be launched Dec. 19, will provide data on about 170 hospitals throughout the state, Steele says.

The site has been funded in part by a $4 million grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Steele says. She hopes to receive a combination of public and private financing in the future to fund the site’s maintenance.

A Department of Community Health spokeswoman requested that the site’s URL be kept under wraps until the date of its launch draws closer.

The 6,600-member Medial Association of Georgia, a trade group representing the state’s physicians, supports the state’s efforts to promote transparency, says Tom Kornegay, a spokesman for the group. However, that support could end if the state ever decides to publish quality information based on claims data for individual doctors.

“Any assertions of ‘quality’ must be validated with credible statistical information,” Kornegay says via e-mail. “When it comes to physicians, we do not believe that there is a credible way to measure quality using claims data.”