New Study Details How Physician Groups Are Using Patient Experience Data

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<p>In Massachusetts, where patient experience survey results are publicly reported, the majority of physician groups have undertaken initiatives to improve office visits for their patients, such as changing office workflow, training staff, and investing in electronic health records, according to a new <a href="/publications/journal-article/2010/dec/physician-groups-use-data-patient-experience-surveys">Commonwealth Fund–supported study</a> published online by the <em>Journal of General Internal Medicine</em>. There has been less focus, however, on efforts to enhance clinicians' interpersonal skills, which play a central role in patients' care experiences.</p>
<p>The new study, led by RAND's Mark W. Friedberg, M.D., M.P.P., and based on interviews with leaders at 72 Massachusetts physician groups, also found that integrated medical groups were more likely than less-integrated organizational models to engage in group-wide performance improvement, and more likely to be eligible for financial incentives offered by third parties, such as health plans, that are based on measures of patient experience.</p>
<p>Still, physician groups in the study rarely pursued strategies to train physicians to improve their interpersonal communication skills, instead opting to focus on interactions between patients and nonclinical office staff, or investing in electronic health record systems and other infrastructure. "If policymakers wish to motivate changes in the behavior of individual providers, new incentives that target specific, provider-focused domains of patient experience may be necessary," the authors conclude. <br /></p>