Tracking Managed Care

The Importance of a Cash Incentive for Medical Director Response to a Survey

Published In: American Journal of Managed Care, Vol. 6, no. 11, Nov. 2000, p. 1209-1214

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1999

by Jennifer Malin, Jeffrey Rideout, Patricia A. Ganz

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OBJECTIVE: To assess the impact of a monetary incentive in a survey mailed to medical directors of large medical groups and independent practice associations (IPAs). STUDY DESIGN: Mailed survey. METHODS: The authors mailed a survey to the medical directors of all medical groups and IPAs contracted with Blue Cross California Care, a large California managed care health plan (n = 174). After 2 mailings without any monetary incentive, they included a $50 bill in the third mailing to increase the response rate. RESULTS: Only 46 medical directors responded to the first and second mailings (response rates of 17% and 13%, respectively). The third mailing, which included a $50 bill attached to the front of the survey, yielded 78 responses (66%), for an overall total of 124 (76%). They found no significant differences in the physician organizations of medical directors who responded to the mailing with the $50 incentive compared with the physician organizations of those who responded to 1 of the first 2 mailings, although medical directors who responded without the financial incentive were more likely to report that their organization had staff for quality assurance (96% vs 82%; P < or = .03). CONCLUSION: Including a $50 bill improved the rate of response to a survey mailed to medical directors from 13%-17% to 66%.

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