Patient Feedback Offers Valid Insight into Quality of Physician Care

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<p>As national interest in measuring and reporting on the quality of health care providers grows, a large-scale study demonstrates the validity of patients' reports about the quality of individual doctors.<br><br>Findings from the Massachusetts study, which was sponsored by The Commonwealth Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, are reported in "<a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=20367&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D335005%26%23doc335005">Measuring Patients' Experiences with Individual Primary Care Physicians</a>" (<em>Journal of General Internal Medicine,</em> Jan. 2006).<br><br>The statewide pilot project, conducted by a team based at Tufts-New England Medical Center and Massachusetts Health Quality Partners, involved physicians and their patients in the five leading commercial health plans and Medicaid. The researchers found that while individual doctors vary substantially from one another on measures such as communication quality, accessibility, and coordination of care, reports by 45 patients of individual physicians are highly consistent and reliable sources of information.<br><br>"These findings reveal that among a modest-size sample of a physician's patients, it is possible to obtain a snapshot of what it is like to be a patient of that physician that appears to hold true from patient to patient," says Dana Gelb Safran, Sc.D., the study's lead author. "The study points to patients' reports as an effective tool that can be used more widely to improve quality of care."</p>