, Volume 16, Issue 10, pp 663-667

Productivity, quality, and patient satisfaction

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CONTEXT: Although few data are available, many believe that part-time primary care physicians (PCPs) are less productive and provide lower quality care than full-time PCPs. Some insurers exclude part-time PCPs from their provider networks.

OBJECTIVE: To compare productivity, quality of preventive care, patient satisfaction, and risk-adjusted resource utilization of part-time and full-time PCPs.

DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study.

SETTING: Boston.

PARTICIPANTS: PCPs affiliated with 2 academic outpatient primary care networks.

MEASUREMENTS: PCP productivity, patient satisfaction, resource utilization, and compliance with screening guidelines.

RESULTS: Part-time PCP productivity was greater than that of full-time PCPs (2.1 work relative value units (RVUs)/bookable clinical hour versus 1.3 work RVUs/bookable clinical hour, P<.01). A similar proportion of part-time PCPs (80%) and full-time PCPs (75%) met targets for mammography, Pap smears, and cholesterol screening (P=.67). After adjusting for clinical case mix, practice location, gender, board certification status, and years in practice, resource utilization of part-time PCPs ($138 [95% confidence interval (CI), $108 to $167]) was similar to that of full-time PCPs ($139 [95% CI, $108 to $170], P = .92). Patient satisfaction was similar for part-time and full-time PCPs.

CONCLUSIONS: In these academic primary care practices, rates of patient satisfaction, compliance with screening guidelines, and resource utilization were similar for part-time PCPs compared to full-time PCPs. Productivity per clinical hour was markedly higher for part-time PCPs. Despite study limitations, these data suggest that academic part-time PCPs are at least as efficient as full-time PCPs and that the quality of their work is similar.