Quality monitoring of physicians: linking patients' experiences of care to clinical quality and outcomes

J Gen Intern Med. 2008 Nov;23(11):1784-90. doi: 10.1007/s11606-008-0760-4. Epub 2008 Aug 28.


Background: Physicians are increasingly asked to improve the delivery of clinical services and patient experiences of care.

Objective: We evaluated the association between clinical performance and patient experiences in a statewide sample of physician practice sites and a sample of physicians within a large physician group.

Design, setting, participants: We separately identified 373 practice sites and 119 individual primary care physicians in Massachusetts.

Measurements: Using Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set data, we produced two composites addressing processes of care (prevention, disease management) and one composite addressing outcomes. Using Ambulatory Care Experiences Survey data, we produced seven composite measures summarizing the quality of clinical interactions and organizational features of care. For each sample (practice site and individual physician), we calculated adjusted Spearman correlation coefficients to assess the relationship between the composites summarizing patient experiences of care and those summarizing clinical performance.

Results: Among 42 possible correlations (21 correlations involving practice sites and 21 involving individual physicians), the majority were positive in site level (71%) and physician level (67%) analyses. For the 28 possible correlations involving patient experiences and clinical process composites, 8 (29%) were significant and positive, and only 2 (7%) were significant and negative. The magnitude of the significant positive correlations ranged from 0.13 to 0.19 at the site level and from 0.28 to 0.51 at the physician level. There were no significant correlations between patient experiences and the clinical outcome composite.

Conclusions: The modest correlations suggest that clinical quality and patient experience are distinct, but related domains that may require separate measurement and improvement initiatives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Disease Management*
  • Group Practice
  • Humans
  • Massachusetts
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Private Practice
  • Young Adult