ACP American College of Physicians - Internal Medicine - Doctors for Adults

Effective Clinical Practice

The Influence of Organizational Structure on Physician Satisfaction: Findings from a National Survey

Effective Clinical Practice, March/April 2000.

Background. The term managed care encompasses a variety of organizational arrangements between physicians and health plans. At one extreme, physicians are plan employees; at the other, physicians have contracts with multiple plans. How these arrangements affect physicians' satisfaction with managed care is not well known.

Objective. To explore the effect of organizational structure on physician satisfaction.

Design. Telephone survey of 751 practicing internists. The response rate for the 15-minute survey was 64%.

Sampling Strategy. The random sample was taken from the membership of the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine. Federal employees, retirees, physicians, and students who spent less than half of their time in patient care were excluded.

Results. 689 Physicians indicated that they were affiliated with a managed care plan: 9% were salaried employees, 6% had an exclusive contract with one plan, and 85% had a variety of nonexclusive arrangements with multiple plans. Among plan employees, 32% reported they were very satisfied with the managed care organization in which they worked. The corresponding figure was 19% among physicians with an exclusive contract and 5% among those with multiple contracts. A similar pattern of responses was seen when physicians were asked about their perception of the commitment of managed care to quality. Although 64% of plan employees responded that there was a great deal of commitment, the corresponding figure was 35% among physicians with an exclusive contract and only 7% among those with multiple contracts.

Conclusions. Physicians who are salaried employees of a staff- or group-model HMO report the highest satisfaction with managed care.