Study:Large groups provide higher-quality care

While consumers may assume that high-touch smaller practices can provide better care, a new study suggests that larger integrated physician groups perform better on a series of standard quality measures. The study, which appears in the current issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, examined three preventative care measures and three chronic disease management measures. The researchers based their findings on data collected from 119 California groups contracting with PacifiCare between July 1999 and June 2000.

As it turned out, integrated medical groups with employed physicians had higher scores than independent practices on four of six quality measures. The researchers did not discover an obvious reason why the larger groups did better on these measures; Interestingly, neither the use of EMRs nor the presence of quality improvement programs explained the performance differences. However, the authors speculated that centralized decision-making and closer work relationships within integrated practices might play a role. It could also be that the relationship each group had with PacifiCare had some impact, too. The research was led by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine's Dr. Ateev Mehrotra, and funded in part by grants from the California HealthCare Foundation and the Commonwealth Fund.

To learn more about the study:
- check out the UPMC press release