More Senior Physicians See Fewer Underserved Patients

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  • More Senior Physicians See Fewer Underserved Patients

Findings for share of Medicaid patients and minority patients

THURSDAY, Dec. 14, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Senior physicians treat fewer traditionally underserved patients than their junior colleagues within the same practices, according to a research letter published online Dec. 13 in JAMA Network Open.

Hannah T. Neprash, Ph.D., from University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis, and colleagues examined the association of physician seniority with patient panel demographics. Analysis included 28,895 physicians from 6,166 practices (with four or more same-specialty clinicians) treating 29.7 million patients (at least 50 per physician) identified through 2017 all-payer claims data from athenahealth, and 170,022 physicians in 18,970 practices identified through 2021 Medicare fee-for-service Part B public use files.

The researchers found that median experience was 20 years in athenahealth data and 19 years in Medicare data, while the median practice-level gap (most junior to most senior) was 26 and 25 years, respectively. For cognitive and procedural physicians identified through athenahealth, the Medicaid share of patients was 17.39 percent for the most junior and 15.29 percent most senior physician, a seniority gap of −2.10 percentage points. The seniority gap for Medicaid using Medicare data was −2.25 percentage points. For the fraction of minority group patients, the seniority gap in was −1.36 and −0.96 percentage points in athenahealth and Medicare, respectively.

“To the extent that patients value seeing more experienced physicians, disparities in access are a concerning barrier to equitable care,” the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text

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