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Back in the Driver's Seat: Specialists Regaining Autonomy

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Publication Date: January 2003

Publisher(s): Center for Studying Health System Change

Author(s): J. Lee Hargraves; Hoangmai H. Pham

Series: Tracking Report No. 7

Topic: Health (Health care planning)

Type: Report

Abstract:

Between 1997 and 2001, the proportion of specialists reporting more freedom to make clinical decisions that meet their patients' needs increased significantly, much more so than among primary care physicians (PCPs), according to a new study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC). Specialists now are also more likely to believe they can make clinical decisions in the best interest of their patients without reducing their income and can maintain continuing relationships with their patients to promote high-quality care. In contrast, PCPs' views on these issues have changed little. These findings about physicians' perceptions are likely a reflection of recent changes in managed care. Responding to a strong consumer and physician backlash, health plans gave consumers a broader choice of physicians and eased restrictions on care in the late 1990s.