We often point out to our followers how important it is to monitor your payer directories and the online physician directories aimed at consumers for accuracy. Now, from here in California, is more proof of how important it is to do so: Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, has just disabled its provider directory because it contains too many errors. (This story from the Los Angeles Times notes some — like listing obstetricians as ophthalmologists and wrongly denoting whether physicians are speakers of languages like Russian and Farsi.)
This post is not intended to pile on about exchange and ACA (Obamacare) glitches! Rather, this move by Covered California offered an opportunity to reinforce how easy it is for incorrect information to enter a provider directory. Once incorrect information is published, it can be replicated all over the internet — as happens especially with the physician ratings directories. (This is one more reason that Covered California did the right thing by disabling their directory until they had more confidence in its accuracy.)
This problem was not caused by practice managers or physicians, but, unfortunately, it is one more thing that practices need to take some responsibility for — lest their patients become misinformed (or unintentionally turned away, for example when a plan incorrectly lists a physician as not accepting new patients or fails to denote specialty/subspecialty properly).
Practice managers: get in the habit of checking directories periodically, or assign this responsibility to a staff member. Every practice should establish a tickler to check payer directories — at least once a year. You can tie it to contract renewal (another thing you need a tickler item for), or, better yet, find out if there is a schedule for new directories to be prepared from each of your health plans. And check your listings on online consumer directories like Google+ Local, Healthgrades and Vitals at least annually; this is a great opportunity to both correct errors and add custom information (pictures, URL, custom text) as permitted (free marketing!).