Now Reading: 25 Percent of Large Medical Groups Use Data from Patients to Improve Care

Only 10 percent reported that most of their physicians would strongly agree with statement that the group regularly incorporates feedback from patients in improving care and developing new services.

This is among the largest medical groups, the ones with the greatest infrastructure.

This figure comes from the attached article, published in Health Affairs , which is a survey of a sample of the largest medical groups in the United States (those with 20 or more physicians), with the exclusion of Independent Practice Associations (due to theoretically less infrastructure present), and via self-report of the CEO’s/Presidents/Medical Director. In other words, this is best case.

With regard to online access:

Thirty percent of medical groups use group visits for patients with chronic illnesses at a majority of their practice sites (data not shown). A similar proportion reported that most of their physicians communicate with patients via e-mail “occasionally,” although only 1 percent reported that physicians use e-mail with patients daily. Nine percent said that a majority of their patients could access some part of the group’s EMR online.

Unfortunately, the performance of the medical groups surveyed lessens as the size of the group does. I thought it might be possible that smaller practices in this group might employ greater efforts to incorporate patient feedback. That could still be the case, since groups with less than 20 physicians are not included here (and those are the overwhelming majority of places where Americans receive their ambulatory medical care).

What about measuring “Medical Home-ness”?

Although some argue that “ medical-homeness” is better evaluated from the patient’s perspective than from the physician’s, others balk at all attempts to measure aspects of the PCMH as overly reductionist. Regardless, the demand for clinical practice “ transparency” remains a reality of the current policy environment, and success of the model will depend in part on continued multistakeholder involvement in the development of standardized, comprehensive assessment tools.

How, in a Health 2.0 world, could we combine the significant expertise of NCQA and lighter weight solutions to support patient involvement in the measurement of medical home-ness? Would this approach also guide medical groups to select the right infrastructure improvement projects for themselves and implement them quickly? This fits in nicely with the LEAN concept of “seeing the impact of what you do,” by getting smaller bits of feedback soon, combined with more comprehensive feedback over time.

Maybe a parallel iPhone Medical Home measurement application will surface …. see what you think.

Ted Eytan, MD