Measuring the Quality of Physician Care

Studies have found that consumers are very interested in information about the quality of physician care.[1-2] Yet public reporting of such data remains somewhat limited. The available measures are primarily suited for and used in quality improvement activities and pay-for-performance initiatives.

This section reviews why physician quality has been difficult to measure and report, the physician-level quality measures that you can report, and ways to get information about the measures:

Initiatives Influencing Physician-Level Reporting

Two national initiatives have influenced the types of physician information that health plans, health care collaboratives, and others collect and report:

  • The Patient Charter for Physician Performance Measurement, Reporting and Tiering Programs (the "Patient Charter") was developed by the Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project. The Patient Charter is a set of principles that guide how health plans measure doctors' performance and report the information to consumers.
  • The Physician and Hospital Quality (PHQ) certification program is administered by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). PHQ standards require provider measurement programs to use valid, transparent methodologies and measure quality—not cost alone. Health plans, measurement collaboratives, provider networks, and information providers can apply for PHQ certification. Learn about PHQ certification at

[1] Hibbard JH, & Jewett JJ. What type of quality information do consumers want in a health care report card? Medical Care Research and Review, 1996.53;28-47.
[2] Ranganathan M, Hibbard J, Rodday AM, de Brantes F, Conroy K, Rogers WH, Safran DG. Motivating public use of physician-level performance data: an experiment on the effects of message and mode. Medical Care Research and Review, 2009 Feb;66, 68-81. Originally published online Oct 15, 2008.

Page last reviewed November 2018
Page originally created February 2015
Internet Citation: Measuring the Quality of Physician Care. Content last reviewed November 2018. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
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