Physicians must have the opportunity to review their data for accuracy and to appeal any errors before information is made public, according to a letter from 82 medical groups to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The document, submitted in response to CMS’ proposed rule on Availability of Medicare Data for Performance Measurement, provides detailed recommendations to the agency on additional safeguards and ways to standardize the data collection to assist in developing meaningful, actionable reports.

“The release of accurate data provides an opportunity to inform patients and physicians and to advance the quality of care in the Medicare program,” said American Medical Association President Peter W. Carmel, MD. “CMS has included critical safeguards in this proposed rule, but further action is needed to ensure the information is reliable and the process is equitable.”

The AMA, among the signatories, also urged CMS to standardize the process for developing the public reports and the type of information they will include, not only across the Medicare system but for private insurance data as well.

“Just as the release of reliable information can be helpful for patients and physicians, the release of incorrect information could harm patients and the entire Medicare system,” Carmel added. “The reports should compare apples to apples—using the same data from both private insurers and Medicare—and allow a full review and appeals process before publication, to provide the most accurate information.”