Department of Biostatistics Working Paper 51. Baltimore, MD, USA: Johns Hopkins University.
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
OBJECTIVE. To examine effects of primary care physicians (PCPs) and patients on the association between charges for primary care and specialty care in a point-of-service (POS) health plan.
DATA SOURCE. Claims from 1996 for 3,308 adult male POS plan members, each of whom was assigned to one of the 50 family practitioner-PCPs with the largest POS plan member-loads.
STUDY DESIGN. A hierarchical multivariate two-part model was fitted using a Gibbs sampler to estimate PCPs’ effects on patients’ annual charges for two types of services, primary care and specialty care, the associations among PCPs’ effects, and within-patient associations between charges for the two services. Adjusted Clinical Groups (ACGs) were used to adjust for case-mix.
PRINCIPAL FINDINGS. PCPs with higher case-mix adjusted rates of specialist use were less likely to see their patients at least once during the year (estimated correlation: –.40; 95% CI: –.71, –.008) and provided fewer services to patients that they saw (estimated correlation: –.53; 95% CI: –.77, –.21). Ten of 11 PCPs whose case-mix adjusted effects on primary care charges were significantly less than or greater than zero (p < .05) had estimated, case-mix adjusted effects on specialty care charges that were of opposite sign (but not significantly different than zero). After adjustment for ACG and PCP effects, the within-patient, estimated odds ratio for any use of primary care given any use of specialty care was .57 (95% CI: .45, .73).
CONCLUSIONS. PCPs and patients contributed independently to a trade-off between utilization of primary care and specialty care. The trade-off appeared to partially offset significant differences in the amount of care provided by PCPs. These findings were possible because we employed a hierarchical multivariate model rather than separate univariate models.
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