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Massachusetts physician groups improving patient experience, study finds
Date:12/20/2010

Most Massachusetts physician groups are using results from a statewide patient survey to help improve patient experiences, but a significant number are not making use of the information or are making relatively limited efforts, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

Although physician communication skills are thought to be crucial to patient-centered care, the physician groups studied rarely pursued strategies that focused on improving physicians' ability to communicate with patients, according to the study published online by the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Instead, physician groups most commonly focused on other improvements, such as staff courteousness, scheduling practices and investments in electronic health records.

"It's encouraging that most Massachusetts physician groups are using patient feedback to make improvements. However, we were surprised to find only a small number of groups focusing on the physician's role in improving patient care," said Dr. Mark W. Friedberg, the study's lead author and a natural scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

An increasing number of government agencies and other groups are compiling public reports of patient-reported experiences with health care providers, both as a tool to help patients choose doctors and other health care providers, and as a way to motivate performance improvement.

Since 2002, the Massachusetts Health Quality Partners has conducted a statewide patient experience survey of more than 200,000 patients enrolled in the state's five largest health plans. The survey assesses the care delivered by more than 4,000 primary care physicians in nearly 500 medical offices operated by 120 medical groups. The results have been available to the public since 2006.

Previous studies have assessed how patients use the publicly available information about physicians, but the RAND study is the first to examine in detail how phy
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Contact: Warren Robak
media@rand.org
310-374-5455
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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