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Part III. Performance measurements of primary care physicians in managed care

Part III. Performance measurements of primary care physicians in managed care

Disease-A-Month 44(8): 400-420

A fundamental change occurring for physicians is that there are increasingly organized efforts to comprehensively assess physician performance. Managed care is the factor most instrumental in leading to an enhanced focus on physician measurements. Another major factor that has prompted increased attention to the measurement of physicians' performance is that patients are beginning to act more as consumers of health care. Efforts to measure physician performance in geographically dispersed primary care practices is inherently more difficult than measuring hospital care. However, according to some studies that have attempted to do this, the delivery in primary care offices of basic preventive services and the care given to patients with chronic illnesses is surprisingly poor. If primary care physicians don't address these issues, managed care companies will make it policy to refer some patients with chronic disease to specialists, who are comprehensively achieving higher measurement scores. What is being measured is at present quite variable in different primary care offices. Most of the initial measurements have been from claims data or from other data that might be obtained and aggregated outside of the primary care physician's office. As this data is not very rich in clinical information, significant misinterpretation is possible. In order to augment these shortcomings, office records are increasingly being reviewed. A standardization of primary care physicians' office medical records is rapidly occurring and is being driven by the measurable items reviewed by managed care organizations. Measurement of patient complaints and patient surveys is another means that managed care organizations presently use to assess primary care physicians' performance. Extreme caution should be used when interpreting this data, as often the small numbers of patients, multifactorial issues, and ambiguity about responsible parties may skew the results. Measurement processes are evolving to focus on how the health care system functions in an integrated fashion, instead of strictly on how the individual physician is performing. Present and planned measurement processes should be used to improve care of patients, and this is most likely to occur when physicians take an active role in understanding and responding to the measurement processes arising from managed care.

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Accession: 046920634

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 9735942

DOI: 10.1016/s0011-5029(98)90007-4

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