Physician Spending, Patient Outcomes and Future Research

In part five of Healthcare Matter’s interview with Anupam Jena, MD, PhD on the study, Physician spending and subsequent risk of malpractice claims: observational study, Dr. Jena explains some of the limitations of the research he conducted. First, the study was not set up to determine if the relationship between physician spending and a lower likelihood of being sued was a cause and effect relationship. Additionally, the study only considered data from Florida and did not delve into the situation in other states. Florida has a unique malpractice environment when compared with many parts of the country, so data from Florida may not be representative of trends in other states or across the nation.

Dr. Jena also addresses the implications of his study regarding lowering healthcare costs. Physicians may have little reason to constrain spending if greater spending levels result in fewer medical malpractice suits. Additionally, in the current fee-for-service model, physician income is directly tied to spending. However, Dr. Jena cautions, there could be unintended consequences to reducing spending, so it is important to monitor these issues.

A medical doctor and economist, Dr. Jena is Associate Professor of Healthcare Policy and Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an assistant physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. His research areas include medical malpractice, the economics of medical innovation and cost effectiveness, geographic variation in medical care and insurance benefit design.

See Part V of our wide-ranging interview with Dr. Jena below, or watch the entire program here.


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