Background: Satisfaction with health plan performance has been assessed frequently, but assessment of physician group performance is rare.
Objective: To present ratings of the care provided by physician groups to enrollees in a variety of capitated health maintenance organization plans.
Methods: A random sample was drawn of adult enrollees receiving managed health care from 48 physician groups in a group practice association. Each individual in the sample was mailed a 12-page questionnaire and 7093 were returned (59% response rate). The mean age of those returning the questionnaire was 51 years; 65% were women.
Results: Reliability estimates for 6 multi-item satisfaction scales were excellent, and noteworthy differences in ratings among groups were observed. In particular, ratings of overall quality ranged from a low of 28 to a high of 68 (mean, 50; SD, 10). Average scores for physician groups were strongly correlated across all scales, but no single group scored consistently highest or lowest on the different scales. Negative ratings of care were significantly related to the following: intention to switch to another physician group, difficulty in getting appointments, lengthy waiting periods in the reception area and examination room, the inability to get consistent care from one physician for routine visits, and not being informed by the office staff when there was a delay in seeing the primary care provider.
Conclusions: Monitoring of health care quality at the physician group level is possible, and could be used for benchmarking, internal quality improvement, and for providing information to the public about how these physician groups will meet its needs.