The Feasibility of Collecting Data on Physicians and Their Practices

Prepared for
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
doctors in group practice

To monitor the health care system and assess the impact of reforms, policymakers and researchers must have access to better data on physicians and their practices. Accurate and timely information on physicians is essential to understanding how the health care system is functioning, identifying potential problems, and assessing programmatic and policy reforms. For example, components of the Affordable Care Act seek to transform the health care system by enhancing the role of primary care physicians in care management, rewarding physicians and other providers for high-quality, efficient care, improving information for evidence-based care, and promoting local delivery system changes to improve care. Physicians and their practices are integral to these initiatives, so understanding how they practice and how they respond to policy and economic incentives can be key to the success of such reforms.

Mathematica was selected by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to conduct a feasibility study identifying critical issues on physician behavior and physician practices faced by public and private policymakers. The project involves:

  • Reporting current and past research in these areas
  • Describing existing and past physician data collection efforts
  • Documenting missing physician data needed to address these issues
  • Identifying options to narrow the physician data gap and provide recommendations for AHRQ consideration
  • Assisting with a federally led prototype data collection effort to illustrate a potential approach for AHRQ to take in the future