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Less-experienced physicians more costly than more-experienced physicians
Date:11/5/2012

Physicians with the least experience spend significantly more money treating patients than physicians who have the most experience, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

The findings, published in the November edition of the journal Health Affairs, are from the first study to examine the link between physician characteristics and medical costs.

Researchers say the findings could have significant implications for less-experienced physicians, who might be excluded from contracting networks or face lower payments as both private insurers and government programs look to reward health care providers who deliver quality care at a lower cost.

"These findings are provocative, but they warrant further examination and need to be affirmed by additional studies," said lead author Dr. Ateev Mehrotra, an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and a researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "However, it is possible that one driver of health care costs is that newly trained physicians practice a more-costly style of medicine."

Commercial health plans and Medicare are using cost profiles to identify which physicians account for more health care spending than others, while devising strategies to reward those who provide quality care at a lower cost.

To identify which physician types might be costlier than others, researchers used commercial health plan claims for more than 1 million Massachusetts residents from 2004 and 2005 to construct cost profiles for more than 12,000 physicians in the state. Costs were evaluated across 600 types of "episodes of care" that included a patient's illness and the severity of their disease, including whether a procedure was performed.

Physicians who had less than 10 years of experience had 13.2 percent higher overall costs than physicians with 40 or more years of experience. Physicians with 10 to 19 years of experience had cost profi
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Contact: Warren Robak
robak@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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