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Larger Physician Practices Spend More Per Person, Have Higher Readmission Rates, Study Finds

A study focusing of patients with high health care needs found large physician practices spend more per person than small practices and their patients are readmitted to the hospital at higher rates. Using 2012–2013 data from the National Study of Physician Organizations linked with Medicare claims, Commonwealth Fund–supported researchers writing in Health Services Research (July 5, 2018) examined how the size of a practice, along with other characteristics, relate to the total amount spent on a patient’s care and the quality of care provided. Quality was measured by two indicators: 30-day hospital readmissions and admissions for “ambulatory care–sensitive” conditions, which usually don’t require hospitalization when appropriate outpatient care is provided. The study focused on all Medicare beneficiaries with a special focus on those with high health care needs. The study also found that despite spending more on quality improvement, health IT, and care management, large medical practices don’t necessarily deliver higher-quality care than small ones.

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