Capitated Payments to Primary Care Providers and the Delivery of Patient Education

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Patient education is a critical component of the patient-centered medical home and is a powerful and effective tool in chronic disease management. However, little is known about the effect of practice payment on rates of patient education during office encounters.


For this study we took data from the 2009 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. This was a cross-sectional analysis of patient visits to primary care providers to determine whether practice payment in the form of capitated payments is associated within patient education being included more frequently during office visits compared with other payment methods.


In a sample size of 9863 visits in which capitation status was available and the provider was the patient's primary care provider, the weighted percentages of visits including patient education were measured as a percentages of education (95% confidence intervals): <25% capitation, 42.7% (38.3–47.3); 26% to 50% capitation, 37.6% (23.5–54.2); 51% to 75% capitation, 38.4% (28.1–49.8); >75% capitation, 74.0% (52.2–88.1). In an adjusted logistic model controlling for new patients (yes/no), number of chronic conditions, number of medications managed, number of previous visits within the year, and age and sex of the patients, the odds of receiving education were reported as odds ratios (95% confidence intervals): <25% capitation, 1.00 (1.00–1.00); 26% to 50% capitation, 0.77 (0.38–1.58); 51% to 75% capitation, 0.81 (0.53–1.25); and >75% capitation, 3.38 (1.23–9.30).


Patients are more likely to receive education if their primary care providers receive primarily capitated payment. This association is generally important for health policymakers constructing payment strategies for patient populations who would most benefit from interventions that incorporate or depend on patient education, such as populations requiring management of chronic diseases.

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