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The American Journal of Managed Care February 2019
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Medication Adherence as a Measure of the Quality of Care Provided by Physicians
Seth A. Seabury, PhD; J. Samantha Dougherty, PhD; and Jeff Sullivan, MS
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Medication Adherence as a Measure of the Quality of Care Provided by Physicians

Seth A. Seabury, PhD; J. Samantha Dougherty, PhD; and Jeff Sullivan, MS
Physician-level medication adherence is a strong predictor of patient health and should be considered as a measure of physician quality.
ABSTRACT

Objectives: To assess the extent to which medication adherence in congestive heart failure (CHF) and diabetes may serve as a measure of physician-level quality.

Study Design: A retrospective analysis of Medicare data from 2007 to 2009, including parts A (inpatient), B (outpatient), and D (pharmacy).

Methods: For each disease, we assessed the correlation between medication adherence and health outcomes at the physician level. We controlled for selection bias by first regressing patient-level outcomes on a set of covariates including comorbid conditions, demographic attributes, and physician fixed effects. We then classified physicians into 3 levels of average patient medication adherence—low, medium, and high—and compared health outcomes across these groups.

Results: There is a clear relationship between average medication adherence and patient health outcomes as measured at the physician level. Within the diabetes sample, among physicians with high average adherence and controlling for patient characteristics, 26.3 per 1000 patients had uncontrolled diabetes compared with 45.9 per 1000 patients among physicians with low average adherence. Within the CHF sample, also controlling for patient characteristics, the average rate of CHF emergency care usage among patients seen by physicians with low average adherence was 16.3% compared with 13.5% for doctors with high average adherence.

Conclusions: This study’s results establish a physician-level correlation between improved medication adherence and improved health outcomes in the Medicare population. Our findings suggest that medication adherence could be a useful measure of physician quality, at least for chronic conditions for which prescription medications are an important component of treatment.

Am J Manag Care. 2019;25(2):78-83

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