Physician network connections to specialists and HIV quality of care

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To estimate novel measures of generalist physicians’ network connectedness to HIV specialists and their associations with two dimensions of HIV quality of care. Data Sources: Medicare and Medicaid claims and the American Medical Association Masterfile data on people living with HIV (PLWH) and the physicians providing their HIV care in California between 2007 and 2010. Study Design: I construct regional patient-sharing physician networks from the shared treatment of PLWH and calculate (a) measures of network connectedness to all physician types and (b) specialty-weighted measures to describe connectedness to HIV specialists. Two HIV quality of care outcomes are then evaluated: medication quality (prescribing antiretroviral drugs from at least two drug classes) and monitoring quality (at least two annual HIV virus monitoring scans). Linear probability models estimate the associations between network statistics and the two dimensions of HIV quality of care, and a policy simulation demonstrates the importance of these statistical relationships. These analyses include 16 124 PLWH, 3240 generalists, and 1031 HIV specialists. Data Collection/Extraction Methods: PLWH are identified from claims for patients with any indication of HIV using an existing algorithm from the literature. Principal Findings: Generalists’ network connectedness to HIV specialists is positively related with their own HIV medication quality; one additional HIV specialist connection is associated with a 1.46 percentage point (SE 0.42, P <.01) increase in generalist's medication quality. Based on the estimated associations, a simulated policy that increases connectedness between generalists and HIV specialists reduces the annual rate of HIV infections by up to 6%, roughly 290 fewer infections per year. Only network connectedness to all physician types is associated with improved monitoring quality. Conclusions: Network connectedness to HIV specialists is positively associated with generalists’ HIV medication quality, which suggests that specialists provide clinical support through patient-sharing for complex treatment protocol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHealth Services Research
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • HIV/AIDS
  • physician networks
  • quality of care
  • social network analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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