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J Gen Intern Med. 2018 Apr;33(4):481-486. doi: 10.1007/s11606-017-4239-z. Epub 2017 Dec 4.

Characteristics and Disparities among Primary Care Practices in the United States.

Author information

1
Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care , Brigham Health, Boston, MA, USA. dmlevine@bwh.harvard.edu.
2
Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA. dmlevine@bwh.harvard.edu.
3
Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA.
4
Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
5
Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
6
Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Despite new incentives for US primary care, concerns abound that patient-centered practice capabilities are lagging.

OBJECTIVE:

Describe the practice structure, patient-centered capabilities, and payment relationships of US primary care practices; identify disparities in practice capabilities.

DESIGN:

Analysis of the 2015 Medical Organizations Survey (MOS), part of the nationally representative Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).

SETTING:

Practice-reported information from primary care practices of MEPS respondents who reported receiving primary care and made at least one visit in 2015 to that practice.

PARTICIPANTS:

Surveyed primary care practices (nā€‰=ā€‰4318; 77% response rate) providing primary care to 7161 individuals, representing 101,159,263 Americans.

MAIN MEASURES:

Practice structure (ownership and personnel); practice capabilities (certification as a patient-centered medical home [PCMH], electronic health record [EHR] use, and x-ray capability); and payment orientation (accountable care organization [ACO] and capitation).

KEY RESULTS:

Independently owned practices served 55% of patients, hospital-owned practices served 19%, and nonprofit/government/academic-owned served 20%. Solo practices served 25% of patients and practices with 2-10 physicians served 53% of patients. Forty-one percent of patients were served by practices certified as PCMHs. Practices with EHRs cared for 90% of patients and could exchange secure messages with 78% of patients. Practices with in-office x-ray capability cared for 34% of patients. Practices participating in ACOs and capitation served 44% and 46% of patients, respectively. Primary care patients in the South, compared to the rest of the country, had less access to nearly all practice capabilities, including patient care coordination (adjusted difference, 13% [95% CI, 8-18]) and secure EHR messaging (adjusted difference, 6% [95% CI, 1-10]). Uninsured patients were less likely to be served at a practice that used an EHR (adjusted difference, 9% [95% CI, 2-16]).

CONCLUSIONS:

Participants' primary care practices were mostly independently owned, nearly always used EHRs (albeit of varying capability), and frequently participated in innovative payment arrangements for a portion of their patients. Patient practices in the South had fewer capabilities than the rest of the country.

KEYWORDS:

disparities in primary care; practice characteristics; primary care

PMID:
29204975
PMCID:
PMC5880758
[Available on 2019-04-01]
DOI:
10.1007/s11606-017-4239-z

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