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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Physician compensation from salary and quality of diabetes care

  • Author(s): Kim, C
  • Steers, WN
  • Herman, WH
  • Mangione, CM
  • Narayan, KMV
  • Ettner, SL
  • et al.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the association between physician-reported percent of total compensation from salary and quality of diabetes care. DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis. PARTICIPANTS: Physicians (n = 1248) and their patients with diabetes mellitus (n = 4200) enrolled in 10 managed care plans. MEASUREMENTS: We examined the associations between physician-reported percent compensation from salary and processes of care including receipt of dilated eye exams and foot exams, advice to take aspirin, influenza immunizations, and assessments of glycemic control, proteinuria, and lipid profile, intermediate outcomes such as adequate control of hemoglobin A1c, lipid levels, and systolic blood pressure levels, and satisfaction with provider communication and perceived difficulty getting needed care. We used hierarchical logistic regression models to adjust for clustering at the health plan and physician levels, as well as for physician and patient covariates. We adjusted for plan as a fixed effect, meaning we estimated variation between physicians using the variance within a particular health plan only, to minimize confounding by other unmeasured health plan variables. RESULTS: In unadjusted analyses, patients of physicians who reported higher percent compensation from salary (>90%) were more likely to receive 5 of 7 diabetes process measures and more intensive lipid management and to have an HbA1c<8.0% than patients of physicians who reported lower percent compensation from salary (<10%). However, these associations did not persist after adjustment. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that salary, as opposed to fee-for-service compensation, is not independently associated with diabetes processes and intermediate outcomes. © 2007 Society of General Internal Medicine.

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