Jennifer Lochner, MD; Jen Birstler, MS; Maureen A. Smith, MD, MPH, PhD; Paul Rathouz, PhD; Brian Arndt, MD; Mark Micek, MD; Elizabeth Trowbridge, MD; Elizabeth Perry, MD; Sandra Kamnetz, MD; Nancy Pandhi, MD, MPH, PhD
Background and Objectives: Many highly capitated systems still pay physicians based on relative value units (RVU), which may lead to excessive office visits. We reviewed electronic health records from the family medicine clinic panel members of 97 physicians and 42 residents to determine if a change from RVUs to panel-based compensation influenced care delivery as defined by the number of office visits and telephone contacts per panel member per month.
Methods: A retrospective analysis of the electronic health records of patients seen in 4 residency training clinics, 10 community clinics, and 4 regional clinics was conducted. We assessed face-to-face care delivery and telephone call volume for the clinics individually and for the clinics pooled by clinic type from 1 year before to at least 1 year after the change.
Results: Change in physician compensation was not found to have an effect on office visits or telephone calls per panel member per month when pooled by clinic categories. Some significant effects were seen in individual clinics without any clear patterns by clinic size or type.
Conclusions: Change in physician compensation was not a key driver of care delivery in family medicine clinics. Understanding changes in care delivery may require looking at a broad array of system, physician, and patient factors.