How to Identify Team-based Primary Care in the United States Using Medicare Data

Med Care. 2021 Feb 1;59(2):118-122. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000001478.


Background: Studying team-based primary care using 100% national outpatient Medicare data is not feasible, due to limitations in the availability of this dataset to researchers.

Methods: We assessed whether analyses using different sets of Medicare data can produce results similar to those from analyses using 100% data from an entire state, in identifying primary care teams through social network analysis. First, we used data from 100% Medicare beneficiaries, restricted to those within a primary care services area (PCSA), to identify primary care teams. Second, we used data from a 20% sample of Medicare beneficiaries and defined shared care by 2 providers using 2 different cutoffs for the minimum required number of shared patients, to identify primary care teams.

Results: The team practices identified with social network analysis using the 20% sample and a cutoff of 6 patients shared between 2 primary care providers had good agreement with team practices identified using statewide data (F measure: 90.9%). Use of 100% data within a small area geographic boundary, such as PCSAs, had an F measure of 83.4%. The percent of practices identified from these datasets that coincided with practices identified from statewide data were 86% versus 100%, respectively.

Conclusions: Depending on specific study purposes, researchers could use either 100% data from Medicare beneficiaries in randomly selected PCSAs, or data from a 20% national sample of Medicare beneficiaries to study team-based primary care in the United States.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Medicare / organization & administration
  • Medicare / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Care Team / classification*
  • Patient Care Team / statistics & numerical data
  • Primary Health Care / classification
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Texas
  • United States