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VOLUME 44 | NUMBER 3 | JUNE 2009


Organizational and Market Influences on Physician Performance on Patient Experience Measures

Objective. To examine the extent to which medical group and market factors are related to individual primary care physician (PCP) performance on patient experience measures.

Data Sources. This study employs Clinician and Group CAHPS survey data (n=105,663) from 2,099 adult PCPs belonging to 34 diverse medical groups across California. Medical group directors were interviewed to assess the magnitude and nature of financial incentives directed at individual physicians and the adoption of patient experience improvement strategies. Primary care services area (PCSA) data were used to characterize the market environment of physician practices.

Study Design. We used multilevel models to estimate the relationship between medical group and market factors and physician performance on each Clinician and Group CAHPS measure. Models statistically controlled for respondent characteristics and accounted for the clustering of respondents within physicians, physicians within medical groups, and medical groups within PCSAs using random effects.

Principal Findings. Compared with physicians belonging to independent practice associations, physicians belonging to integrated medical groups had better performance on the communication ( p=.007) and care coordination ( p=.03) measures. Physicians belonging to medical groups with greater numbers of PCPs had better performance on all measures. The use of patient experience improvement strategies was not associated with performance. Greater emphasis on productivity and efficiency criteria in individual physician financial incentive formulae was associated with worse access to care ( p=.04). Physicians located in PCSAs with higher area-level deprivation had worse performance on the access to care ( p=.04) and care coordination ( p<.001) measures.

Conclusions. Physicians from integrated medical groups and groups with greater numbers of PCPs performed better on several patient experience measures, suggesting that organized care processes adopted by these groups may enhance patients' experiences. Physicians practicing in markets with high concentrations of vulnerable populations may be disadvantaged by constraints that affect performance. Future studies should clarify the extent to which performance deficits associated with area-level deprivation are modifiable.

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