July 25, 2018
Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management Kimberley Geissler recently presented research findings on the formation and performance of health care teams at the 7th conference of the American Society of Health Economics (ASHEcon) held June 10-13, 2018, in Atlanta. ASHEcon is a professional organization dedicated to promoting excellence in health economics research in the United States, with the aim of enhancing individual and societal health by providing evidence and expertise for the development of private and public policies.
Along with colleagues from Dartmouth College and Boston University, Geissler investigated how team structure affects productivity in healthcare settings. The researchers examined the teams that primary care physicians (PCPs) assemble when they refer patients to specialists, developing a new measure of team relationships called “team referral concentration.”
They model the tradeoffs PCPs make between ease of communication when they work with fewer specialists versus potential quality benefits of better patient-specialist matching that may occur with larger PCP-specialist teams, predicting that coordination improves when PCPs concentrate their referrals within a smaller set of specialists, such as a smaller number of cardiologists.
They found that patients of PCPs with concentrated referrals did have lower healthcare costs. This effect existed for commercially insured and Medicare populations and was statistically and economically significant.
Geissler’s study originally appeared as a working paper in The National Bureau of Economic Research.