At DocSpot, our mission is to connect people with the right health care by helping them navigate publicly available information. We believe the first step of that mission is to help connect people with an appropriate medical provider, and we look forward to helping people navigate other aspects of their care as the opportunities arise. We are just at the start of that mission, so we hope you will come back often to see how things are developing.

An underlying philosophy of our work is that right care means different things to different people. We also recognize that doctors are multidimensional people. So, instead of trying to determine which doctors are "better" than others, we offer a variety of filter options that individuals can apply to more quickly discover providers that fit their needs.

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Recommendations on how to promote competition within health care

Carnegie Mellon University published a paper about how the government should cultivate competition in the world of health care. There are a number of recommendations to improve transparency, including creating and distributing quality measures and requiring insurers to "clearly and accurately" identify network coverage and to disclose out-of-pocket costs to patients. The paper also recommends making it easier for competitors to enter the market by removing restrictions and to facilitate telehealth.

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Online patient reviews found to correlate with outcomes

There have been conflicting papers on the usefulness of online patient reviews as a proxy for quality, and NYS Health Foundation just released a paper in its favor. Previous studies looked at the correlation between online patient reviews and results of a survey known as HCAHPS, while this study assessed the correlation between online reviews and a New York state data set known as SPARCS.

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Alaska taps a broader base to stabilize its individual market

Kaiser Health News published a brief follow-up to last year's news that Alaska's legislature stepped in to prevent the collapse of its individual market. Last year, the state was down to just one insurer who was sustaining losses. The state's individual market might have been an example of a death spiral: once premiums are high enough, some healthy individuals stop buying insurance, gambling that they won't incur significant health care costs in the next year. Since those who remain tended to have more healthcare costs on average, insurers would need to raise premiums on everyone who remains to cover costs. As a result, some more healthy individuals decide to stop buying insurance, intensifying the cycle. Seeing the imminent collapse of the individual market, the legislature of Alaska stepped in with a broad-based tax (taxing all insurance companies in the state) to offset the high costs associated with the individual market.

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A Chief Medical Officer Calls for Publishing of Outcomes

Historically, the medical community has been reluctant to measure and publish physician performance data, making it difficult for consumers to compare one provider to another. In this age of sophisticated consumerism, the medical community may be feeling pressure to change, especially as healthcare institutions figure out how to compete with one another in a era of limited reimbursement growth. In an article about Leapfrog's efforts to establish minimum procedure volumes for certain procedures, the chief medical officer of Virginia Hospital Center, Dr. Jeffrey DiLisi, argued for the disclosure of outcomes data so that patients can make informed choices. While such voices may be rare in the medical community, it is encouraging to see at least someone in such a position push for transparency.

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Revisiting medication importation

Kaiser Health News reports that congressmen have introduced legislation to allow US citizens to import medications from other countries (starting with Canada). A bill like this will certainly find resonance among many who are already importing medications and also among some of those who struggle with the high prices of medications. PhRMA, a trade group representing the pharmaceutical industry, objected to the legislation, claiming insufficient safety measures. As described, the bill seems to take a sensible approach towards safety, with foreign pharmacies paying for licenses and inspections from the FDA.

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