Resources & Information

Aug 14 2009

It’s time to complete your expanded NCMB information page

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The North Carolina Medical Board is moving ahead with plans to greatly expand the licensee information pages on the Board's public website.

This initiative received wide coverage by the mainstream media across North Carolina last year, as details of the project became known. The response from the press and the public has been overwhelmingly positive.

The reaction from some in the medical profession has been considerably less enthusiastic. This isn't surprising. After all, most discussion and media coverage has centered on the new types of prejudicial information--including malpractice payment data--that will appear in the expanded pages. It’'s understandable that few medical professionals would consider this something to cheer about,
whether or not they are personally affected.

The emphasis on the "negative" piece of this expansion has resulted in most physicians and physician assistants remaining in the dark about the very real upside for the vast majority of the Board's licensees.

Few licensees will have negative information on their pages. The Board expects less than one percent of its 35,000 licensed physicians and PAs to have a reportable malpractice payment when the new pages go live. The data are less clear for other types of prejudicial information, such as a hospital privilege suspension or out-of-state disciplinary action, but the Board expects only a small fraction of licensees will have negative information of any kind.

For everyone else, the Board's expanded information pages represent an opportunity for high-visibility, free marketing.

The expanded pages will allow, but not require, licensees to provide detailed information about their education and training, honors and awards, faculty appointments, medical service work and publications, among other things. Licensees also will be able to include helpful details such as whether non-English languages are spoken at their practice and whether Medicare and Medicaid are accepted (and whether new patients in these insurance plans are welcome).

I tested my "sales pitch" for the expanded pages out on a group of physician and physician assistant leaders who recently visited the Board's administrative offices. Some were clearly skeptical. But I saw the proverbial light bulb go off over several other heads, especially after I told them the following:
  • The Board's existing licensee information pages are the most popular destination on the Board's website. More than half of visitors access "Look up a Licensee"--the tool used to call up an individual's information page.

  • The pages are viewed daily by an audience of thousands. The existing licensee information pages get up to 3,600 "hits" every day.

  • Patients use the pages to make decisions about where to get care. Visitors often view the Board's licensee information pages when looking for a new doctor or when checking a practitioner's credentials after receiving a referral.

Starting in September, the Board will mail notices to all physician and PA licensees, directing them to the Board's website to provide information for their expanded pages.

When your notice arrives in the mail this fall, I hope that you will take full advantage.

Turn the page for a detailed summary of the optional information you will have the opportunity to include in your licensee information page. This page is aimed at helping licensees identify appropriate details for each category and prepare to complete a comprehensive page.

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Final criteria for malpractice reporting

A bill passed by the General Assembly in June and signed into law by Gov. Beverly Perdue establishes new criteria for the public reporting of malpractice payments.

House Bill 703, now Session Law 2009-217, requires that settlements of $75,000 or greater that occurred on or after May 1, 2008, be made public.

Under the law, payments are to be publicly reported regardless of whether payment is made in a lump sum or a series of payments (related to a single incident of alleged malpractice) totalling $75,000 or more. The Board expects less than one percent of its 35,000 physician and physician assistant licensees to have a payment reported on the Board's public website when the new pages go live, based on a preliminary analysis of malpractice data collected to date.

The reporting criteria established by the new law apply only to settled cases. All malpractice judgments or awards affecting or involving the physician or physician assistant will be made public, regardless of amount.

The law requires the Board to report:
  • The date of the judgment, award, payment or settlement

  • The specialty in which the physician or physician assistant was practicing at the time the incident that resulted in payment occurred

  • The city, state and country in which the incident occurred

  • The date the incident occurred

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