By JACK WEATHERLY
Mississippi is ranked last among 65 medical licensing boards in terms of websites, according to Consumer Reports.
The state had a composite score of 6, compared with top-ranked California, which scored 84.
Of eight categories, the Magnolia State’s Board of Medical Licensure was given a poor rating in seven, and one assessment of fair.
Dr. Virginia Crawford, interim executive director of the state board, did not contest the finding of two reports – one from Consumer Reports and another from the University of Michigan.
“We’re in the process of doing a review of our technology and updating the website as well as the licensing software,” Crawford said in an interview with the Mississippi Business Journal.
“So we are hoping we can make some changes to that and get it off the bottom,” she said.
While Crawford said she understands “the public’s desire to know . . . I also understand the need to provide some privacy for those licensees, and it’s a fine line some times. So we are hopeful we can find a balance that works.”
Dr. John A. Harris, author of the report from the University of Michigan, stated that “more specific information [should] be made available at the individual board level about their own activities. I don’t quite understand the need to protect people that have been disciplined.”
The Mississippi board charges $25 to go beyond a generic description of an action taken against a physician, whose name and location are given, such as “licensee executed an Agreed Order Not to Renew or Seek Reinstatement of his MS medical license.”
After navigating several channels, the specifics can be accessed, at a price.
Virginia, on the other hand, charges no fee and offers easy access to the particulars of a case. It is ranked 6th with a composite score of 72.
Crawford said that the board started working on the problem within past six months, before the results of the studies were published in Consumer Reports on March 31. “It may take us up to 12 months to get this all implemented,” she said.
“Being a good partner in the delivery of health care in Mississippi is critical,” she said.
Crawford said that the board is self-funded through fees, thus limiting its resources.
Harris, author of the report from the University of Michigan, stated in the article released by Consumer Reports that “the amount of funding each medical board receives to investigate claims” has an impact on the disciplinary rate by each state board.
The disciplinary rate ranged from 3.1 to 4.7 for every 1,000 physicians. Mississippi was 3.8, according to University of Michigan researchers.
The article quotes the Federation of State Medical Boards as saying that “the rate of discipline alone is probably not a good picture of really what the boards do and how well they’re able to protect patients in their state.”
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