Docs unconvinced about P4P effectiveness

In a recent survey, primary care physicians (family practitioners, internists, and pediatricians) were asked about their attitude toward pay for performance (P4P), in which physicians are financially rewarded for achieving positive outcomes and high patient satisfaction scores.

Only 7.3 percent endorsed the concept fully, while 40.6 percent indicated it is “a good idea but data are lacking” to implement it. Nearly 40 percent indicated that P4P is a bad idea because “it is difficult to quantify the performance of primary care physicians.” And a little more than 14 percent said they are not familiar with P4P.

The 2008 Survey of Primary Care Physicians, conducted by the recruitment and staffing company Merritt Hawkins & Associates, was mailed to 10,000 primary care physicians selected at random from a national physician database.

In comparison with past surveys, fewer physicians in 2008 were disappointed with their incomes than were disappointed in 2007 and 2006, which may indicate that high demand for primary care services has had at least some positive effects on physician income.

Also, about 75 percent indicated that they plan to continue practicing over the next five years, suggesting that their practices are at least sustainable over that period.

Despite this, however, the survey indicates that incomes for primary care physicians were flat over the last year while overhead costs were up. Only 27 percent said that their practices were financially robust.

Source: Merritt Hawkins & Associates. 2008 Survey of Primary Care Physicians