How Physicians Perform

Building empirical evidence for scoring and classifying physician performance

Dates of the Project: November 2010 through January 2012

Field of Work: Evaluating physician performance

Problem Synopsis: Ninety-five percent of commercial health plans had physician quality incentives in operation or under development, a recent survey found. Yet, according to the survey report, opposition to individual-level profiling has been strong within the physician community, particularly regarding initiatives to rank and publicly report performance.

Synopsis of the Work: Researchers for the Pacific Business Group on Health worked to develop an evidence-based method to score physicians on the health care they provide and to develop a mechanism by which physicians could correct data on their performance. The scoring method took into consideration differences in the makeup of physicians' caseload and the characteristics of their practices or groups.

Key Results:

  • Of three statistical models evaluated as a way to rate physician performances, one called "the adjusted opportunities model" was "the most appealing option."
  • Combining data on a physician's group and/or practice yielded a more accurate reflection of physician performance than data on the physician alone.
  • Physicians who were asked to correct data on their performance evaluations were unlikely to do so. The researchers speculated that the physicians considered the process too burdensome.