Background: The culture of medical group practices is gaining increasing attention as one of the most important organizational factors influencing the costs and quality of health care. Based on organizational theory, we propose that the culture of the practice differs depending on size, ownership, location, and the number of medical specialties.
Methods: A survey was sent to 1223 physicians in 191 clinics in the upper Midwest. The clinic response rate was 77%. The survey instrument identifies 9 culture dimensions, each with 3 to 6 measurement statements.
Results: Smaller clinics had higher scores on 6 of the 9 dimensions. Physician-owned clinics had higher scores on 4 of the 9 dimensions, whereas system-owned clinics had a higher score on only 1 dimension. Only 1 dimension differed among the locations. Single-specialty clinics had higher scores on 4 dimensions and multispecialty clinics had higher scores on 2 dimensions.
Conclusion: Our data confirm the contention that the culture of medical group practices varies considerably; to a degree, this variance is as predicted by organizational theory. The culture changes as group practices become larger and more complex through diversification into multispecialty practices or become part of larger health care systems.