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Keywords:

  • Satisfaction;
  • quality of care;
  • managed care;
  • financial incentives

Background. The specialist's role in caring for managed care patients is likely to grow. Thus, assessing the correlates of patient satisfaction with specialty care is essential.

Objective. To examine the association between characteristics of eye care practices and satisfaction with eye care among working age patients with open-angle glaucoma (OAG) or diabetic retinopathy (DR).

Subjects/Study Setting. A total of 913 working age patients with OAG or DR enrolled in six commercial managed care health plans. The patients were treated in 144 different eye care practices.

Study Design. We used a patient survey to obtain information on patient characteristics and satisfaction with eye care, measured by scores on satisfaction subscales of the 18-item Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire. We used a survey of eye care practices to obtain information on practice characteristics, including provider specialties, practice organization, financial features, and utilization and quality management systems. We estimated logistic regression models to assess the association of patient and practice characteristics with high levels of patient satisfaction.

Principal Findings. Treatment in a practice with a glaucoma specialist (for OAG patients) or a retina specialist (for DR patients) was associated with higher satisfaction, whereas treatment in a practice that obtained a high proportion of its revenues from capitation payments or in a group practice where providers obtained a high proportion of their incomes from bonuses was associated with lower satisfaction.

Conclusions. Many eye care patients prefer to be treated by specialists with expertise in their conditions. Financial arrangement features of eye care practices also are associated with patient satisfaction with care. The most likely mechanisms underlying these associations are effects on provider behavior and satisfaction, which in turn influence patient satisfaction. Managed care plans and provider groups should aim to minimize the negative impact of managed care features on patient satisfaction.