Background: Vertical and horizontal integration among health care providers has transformed the practice arrangements under which many physicians work.
Objective: To examine the influence of type of practice structure, and by implication the financial incentives associated with each structure, on treatment received among men newly diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer.
Research design: We compiled a unique database from cancer registry records from 4 large states, Medicare enrollment and claims for the years 2005-2014 and SK & A physician surveys corroborated by extensive internet searches. We estimated a multinomial logit model to examine the influence of urologist practice structure on type of initial treatment received.
Results: The probability of being monitored with active surveillance was 7.4% and 4.2% points higher for men treated by health system and nonhealth system employed urologists ( P <0.01), respectively, in comparison to men treated by single specialty urology practices. Among multispecialty practices, the rate of active surveillance use was 3% points higher compared with single specialty urology practices( P <0.01). Use of intensity modulated radiation therapy among urologists with ownership in intensity modulated radiation therapy was 17.4% points higher compared with urologists working in small single specialty practices.
Conclusions: Physician practice structure attributes are significantly associated with type of treatment received but few studies control for such factors. Our findings-coupled with the observation that urologist practice structure shifted substantially over this time period due to mergers of small urology groups-provide one explanation for the limited uptake of active surveillance among men with low-risk disease in the US.
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