(HealthDay News) — Small primary care physician practices have lower rates of preventable hospital admissions, compared to larger practices, according to a study published online Aug. 13 in Health Affairs.

Lawrence P. Casalino, MD, PhD, from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, and colleagues conducted a national survey of 1,045 primary care-based practices with ≤19 physicians to determine practice characteristics. Medicare data were used to calculate practices’ rate of potentially preventable hospital admissions (ambulatory care-sensitive admissions).

The researchers found that practices with one to two physicians had 33% fewer preventable admissions, and practices with three to nine physicians had 27% fewer, both compared to practices with 10–19 physicians. Preventable admissions were lower in physician-owned practices compared to hospital-owned practices.

“In an era when health care reform appears to be driving physicians into larger organizations, it is important to measure the comparative performance of practices of all sizes, to learn more about how small practices provide patient care, and to learn more about the types of organizational structures — such as independent practice associations — that may make it possible for small practices to share resources that are useful for improving the quality of care,” Casalino and colleagues conclude.

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