OBJECTIVES: Physician satisfaction is associated with patient satisfaction, adherence to treatment recommendations, and quality. However, burnout is prevalent, and physician experience with health plans is likely a key contributor. We explored physician satisfaction with health plans and assessed physician and plan characteristics associated with greater satisfaction.
STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis of physician satisfaction surveys for US health plans in 2016.
METHODS: We assessed the association between health plan/physician characteristics and physician satisfaction domains using multivariable linear regression. The following satisfaction domains were outcomes of interest, measured by 5-point Likert scales: overall health plan rating, finance, utilization/quality management, network/care coordination, pharmacy, call center, provider relations, and recommendation of the plan to others' practices.
RESULTS: We analyzed surveys from 3158 physicians on 74 health plans, representing a 12.6% response rate. We observed highest satisfaction in overall plan rating, finance, and call center domains (adjusted means = 3.25) and lowest satisfaction in the pharmacy domain (adjusted mean = 3.02). The largest and smallest plans and vertically integrated plans had the highest satisfaction; 76% and 66% of physicians recommended vertically integrated plans and non-vertically integrated plans, respectively, to others (P <.001). Solo practitioners rated overall plan rating, finance, utilization/quality management, and pharmacy domains more favorably than did physicians in larger practices, whereas primary care physicians rated overall plan rating, finance, and utilization/quality management more favorably than did specialists.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrate opportunity to improve physician satisfaction with health plans, specifically in pharmacy/formulary management. As provider satisfaction is increasingly recognized as a critical outcome, our findings highlight intervention targets.