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

sician groups make use of such information. Researchers say the findings are particularly important given national calls for physicians to offer more patient-centered health care.

During 2008, researchers conducted interviews with leaders from 72 of the participating Massachusetts medical groups to assess whether they were making use of the patient feedback and the types of improvement steps that had been taken.

About 61 percent of the medical groups reported attempting group-wide improvement efforts based on the patient assessments, 22 percent reported efforts to improve only the performance of low-scoring physicians, and 17 percent reported no improvement efforts.

Physician groups most likely to make wide use of the patient feedback had an integrated medical group model in which physicians are employed by a central entity, while independent practice associations in which physicians affiliate for business purposes were less likely to use the patient assessments. In addition, physician groups were more likely to be engaged in improvement efforts if they received some payments based upon patient experience ratings.

The areas most commonly targeted for improvement involved access issues such as the time it took to get an appointment, front-office staff communications with patients, including how incoming calls were handled, and customer service habits such as courteousness.

The study found physician groups were less likely to focus on the performance of physicians and other clinicians or to focus on educational activities that might enable patients to self-manage their medical conditions.

The researchers hypothesize that physician group leaders were reluctant to focus quality-improvement efforts on medical staff members because of physicians' skepticism about patient experience results, as well as a sensitivity to low morale among primary care physicians.

"If improving physicians' interactions with patie
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Contact: Warren Robak
media@rand.org
310-374-5455
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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