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GAO Finds Physician Profiling Can Work

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, October 28, 2009

Individual services provided to a patient by a particular physician accounted for only 2% of total expenditures—about $350 for each Medicare patient in a physician’s practice, GAO said. All other services—including those provided by other physicians, home health care, hospice care, outpatient services, and durable medical equipment—accounted for the remaining 44% of expenditures.

Profiling physicians to improve efficiency has been used by some private insurance companies. Overall, GAO said a per capita methodology is "a useful approach" to profiling physicians on their practice efficiency and could become part of a feedback program that includes quality measures and episode based resource-use measures.

Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at

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