Despite greater access to resources, U.S. physicians working in regions with high health care spending and utilization do not feel they are better able to provide quality health care than those in areas with lower health care usage, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
In the study, researchers used Medicare data to determine regions of high-intensity health care and analyzed data from a national physician survey to determine how physicians' perceptions of care quality vary across different regions.
The researchers found that Medicare spending averaged 58% higher in the highest-intensity regions, compared with the lowest-intensity regions, but illness levels were essentially the same in all regions. The study also found:
- Physicians in high-intensity regions had access to one-third more hospital beds but reported greater difficulty in admitting patients to hospitals than those in low-intensity regions;
- High-intensity regions had more than 60% additional medical subspecialists over low-intensity regions, but physicians in high-intensity areas were the least satisfied with access to and quality of specialty services; and
- Physician-to-patient ratios were highest in high-intensity areas, but doctors in those regions said they felt the least able to maintain high-quality relationships with patients.