The Relationships of Physician Practice Characteristics to Quality of Care and Costs

Health Services Research
Vol. 50, No. 3
June 2015
Kralewski, J., Dowd, B., Knutson, D., Tong, J., and Savage, M.

Medical group practices are central to many of the proposals for health care reform, but little is known about the relationship between practice-level characteristics and the quality and cost of care. Practice characteristics from a 2009 national survey of 211 group practices were linked to Medicare claims data for beneficiaries attributed to the practices. The researchers used multivariate regression to examine the relationship between practice characteristics and claims-computable measures of screening and monitoring, avoidable utilization, risk-adjusted per-beneficiary per-year (PBPY) costs, and the practice's net revenue. The researchers found that practice characteristics influence costs indirectly through a set of statistically significant relationships among screening and monitoring measures and avoidable utilization. However, these relationships are not the only pathways connecting practice characteristics to cost, and those additional pathways contain substantial “noise”, adding uncertainty to the estimated direct effects. Some of the attributes thought to be important characteristics of accountable care organizations and medical homes appear to be associated with lower quality and no improvement in cost.

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