Improving chronic illness care: a longitudinal cohort analysis of large physician organizations

Med Care. 2009 Sep;47(9):932-9. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e31819a621a.


Background: An increasing number of people suffer from chronic illness. Processes exist to provide better chronic illness care and yet for the most part, they are not used.

Objective: To examine the change in use of commonly recommended chronic illness care management processes (CMPs) in large medical groups between 2000 and 2006 and the factors associated with the change.

Design and measures: Cohort analysis of data from a national telephone survey in year 2000 and again in 2006. Participants provided information on their organizations' ownership, size, use of defined chronic illness CMPs, financial incentives, quality improvement involvement, profitability, and use of electronic medical records.

Setting: : Medical groups and independent practice associations of 20 physicians or more (N = 369) that treat patients with asthma, congestive heart failure, depression, and diabetes, and that responded to the survey in 2000 and 2006.

Results: Use of CMP increased from 6.25 to 7.67 (of a total of 17; P < or = 0.001), that is, by 23%, between 2000 and 2006. Increases were greatest for those practices receiving financial rewards for quality; those participating in quality improvement activities; and those practices that were profitable. Most of the increase was in use of registries and in patient self-management support services.

Conclusions: There is significant opportunity for improving chronic illness care even in larger physician organizations. Public policies that promote financial rewards for improving quality and that encourage quality improvement initiatives are likely to be associated with improved chronic illness care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Group Practice / organization & administration*
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / statistics & numerical data
  • Physician Incentive Plans
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care*