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Physician-level variation in practice patterns in the VA healthcare system

Published: June 1, 2002
Category: Reports
Authors: Ashton CM, Byrne M, O'Malley KJ, Petersen N, Pietz K, Souchek J
Country: United States
Language: null
Types: Care Management, Performance Analysis
Settings: Academic, Hospital

Health Serv Outcomes Res Methodology 3:95-106.

Houston Center for Quality of Care and Utilization Studies, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Houston, TX, USA; Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA

The objective of this study was to determine whether there is enough variation in utilization of  medical services which can be reliably attributed to primary care providers to justify practice profiling. A total of  221 primary care providers caring for 81,775 patients with a variety of medical conditions in eight Veterans Affairs  medical centers and their associated clinics during calendar year 1999 were used for the study. After controlling  for case-mix variation, the physician-level variation in utilization among providers who had at least 75 patients was  evaluated. Adjusted Clinical Groups (ACGs) were used for case-mix adjustment. Physician effect was measured  by the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC). Patient-level utilization outcomes were total hospital bed days  of care, laboratory costs, radiology costs, and pharmacy costs for each patient during calendar year 1999. The  physician effect (ICC) ranged from .04 for bed days to .12 for laboratory costs. The reliabilities of the physician  effect estimates computed using the Spearman-Brown prediction formula ranged from .75 for bed days to .91  for laboratory costs for providers with 75 or more patients. The profiling methodology reliably detected practice  differences among providers in all utilization outcomes studied. However, the value of profiling as a means of  improving quality of care or efficiency is yet untested.

Outcome Measures,Cost Burden Evaluation,Practice Patterns Comparison,Resource Utilization,United States

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