Embold and Harvard Publish in JAMA Health Forum: Wide Variation in Physician Performance Exists Within Geographic Markets

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Feb. 7, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A team of researchers from Embold Health and Harvard Medical School, led by Zirui Song, M.D., Ph.D., has analyzed care provided by physicians in the same geographical area and found significant variations which could have ramifications for patients and the larger U.S. healthcare system. The study was published recently in JAMA Health Forum, a publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association, and evaluated 8,788 doctors in five metropolitan areas over a three-year period.

"The medical community has known for a long time that the quality of care can vary from region to region, but our work shows these variations also exist among doctors in the same community and even the same practice group," says Embold Chief Medical Officer Matthew Resnick, M.D., MPH. "We’ve also known about high rates of wasteful healthcare spending in the U.S., and this research confirms that a contributor to this waste are procedures which may be unnecessary according to the latest medical guidelines. We hope this research will help people understand not just the importance, but the possibility, of making more informed healthcare decisions."

The study focused on 14 common clinical situations within seven different specialties. In one example, the study showed a patient’s likelihood of having a major (and costly) back surgery can be 3-10 times higher, depending on one decision—which physician they see. In another, the odds of a low-risk mother delivering a baby via C-section can vary dramatically, up to 11x, depending not on her condition, but on which obstetrician she chooses. 

"We looked at a set of situations where clear-cut guidelines have been in place for years, with the hope of limiting variation in physician decision-making and promoting the use of the most appropriate care, based on rigorous evidence," Zirui Song, M.D., Ph.D., the lead author said in an article on the Harvard Medical School website. 

"We know the simple act of choosing a doctor can have profound consequences and that higher quality care leads to better outcomes and lower costs." says Daniel Stein, M.D., founder and CEO of Embold Health. "As a doctor-led company, we want to improve care for everyone, and the study validates our scientifically rigorous approach to measuring the quality of care."

According to Stein and Resnick, Embold Health’s tools improve health quality by guiding employees and their families to the right doctors, enabling employers to offer better benefits at a lower cost, and helping physicians understand how they can improve.

"This type of evidence, if replicated in a rigorous way, may also empower patients, employers, and payers to choose physicians who provide higher value care in their region, allowing consumers voting with their feet to stimulate practice improvement and competition on quality," adds Song.

Click here for a summary of the research study and its relevance to health care purchasers at emboldhealth.com.

Click here to read the full research study in JAMA Health Forum: "Physician Practice Pattern Variations in Common Clinical Scenarios within 5 US Metropolitan Areas."  

About Embold Health

Embold Health is a physician-led health care analytics company that gives people access to real data on physician quality to help them make more confident decisions and get better results, because everyone deserves to know they and their loves ones are getting quality care. Learn more at emboldhealth.com.

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SOURCE Embold Health, Inc.