NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Improving Health Care Quality

October 17, 2013

One of the American Medical Association's core strategic objectives is to advance health care delivery and payment models that enable high-quality, affordable care and restore and preserve physician satisfaction. Such changes could yield a more sustainable and effective health care system with highly motivated physicians, says a recent study conducted by a group of researchers from the RAND Corporation.

Researchers gathered data from 30 physician practices in six states, using a combination of surveys and semi-structured interviews.

  • Among other things, the researchers found that physicians who perceived themselves or their practices as providing high-quality care reported better professional satisfaction.
  • Physicians, especially those in primary care, were frustrated when demands for greater quantity of care limited the time they could spend with each patient, detracting from the quality of care in some cases.
  • Electronic health records (EHR) were a source of both promise and frustration, with major concerns about interoperability between systems and with the amount of physician time involved in data entry.

The researchers recommend the following:

  • Physician practices need a knowledge base and resources for internal improvement.
  • As physician practices affiliate with large hospitals and health systems, paying attention to professional satisfaction may improve patient care and health system sustainability.
  • When implementing new and different payment methodologies, the predictability and perceived fairness of physician incomes will affect professional satisfaction.
  • Better EHR usability should be an industry-wide priority and a precondition for EHR certification.
  • Reducing the cumulative burden of rules and regulations may improve professional satisfaction and enhance physicians' ability to focus on patient care.

Source: Mark Friedberg et al., "Factors Affecting Physician Professional Satisfaction and Their Implications for Patient Care, Health Systems and Health Policy," RAND Corporation, 2013.


Browse more articles on Health Issues