A physicians' agenda for partnering with employers and insurers: fresh ideas

Mayo Clin Proc. 2006 Dec;81(12):1592-602. doi: 10.4065/81.12.1592.


We report the results of the second phase of a multiphase qualitative investigation of the ways physicians, employers, and insurers can work together more effectively to provide better ambulatory care to employees and their dependents. This article focuses on ways physicians can develop more useful relationships among these groups. We used a grounded theory approach to conduct 71 interviews from August 12, 2004, to December 27, 2005, with 25 practicing physicians in large and small groups, urban and rural areas, private and academic settings, and primary care and specialty practices; 33 hospital administrators, medical association executives, health insurance medical officers, and health policy analysts; and 13 senior executives of large and small companies. The study identifies 2 approaches to the structuring of ambulatory care that can lead to improved health care outcomes and value. In the first approach, direct contracting between physicians and employers transfers tasks previously performed by insurers to employers or other intermediaries who may be able to provide better service or lower cost. In the second approach, insurer-mediated relationships between physicians and employers are restructured, particularly in ways that improve information flow. Such relationships may strengthen physicians' ability to provide quality services while enabling patients to make more informed decisions about physician selection, treatments, and spending. We believe that broader use of these approaches may improve the quality and efficiency of ambulatory care for the large proportion of the population that has work-related health insurance. Although the findings are promising, our intent is not to claim broad external validity but rather to encourage greater experience with these approaches and more formal studies of their effectiveness.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Delivery of Health Care / economics
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Health Benefit Plans, Employee / organization & administration*
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Insurance Carriers*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Occupational Medicine / organization & administration
  • Physicians*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Provider-Sponsored Organizations / organization & administration
  • United States