Are Managed Care Plans Organizing for Quality?

Published In: Medical Care Research and Review, v. 57, no. 3, Nov. 2000, p. 9-32

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1999

by Dennis P. Scanlon, Elizabeth S. Rolph, Charles Darby, Hilary E. Doty

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This article examines the degree to which managed care organizations (MCOs) are reorganizing to take responsibility for the quality of care and service they provide. Specifically, factors prompting plans to focus on quality improvement (QI) and how they may be building the capacity to improve quality are considered. The authors' analysis is based on executive interviews with the plan medical directors, QI directors, and chief executive officers (CEOs) in a sample of 24 health plans. The overall response rate was 58.3 percent (medical director = 62.5 percent, QI director = 79.2 percent, CEO = 33.3 percent). The authors queried respondents about (1) perceived drivers and obstacles to the development of an effective QI program, (2) plan organizational structure for QI, and (3) technical capacities for data collection, management, and performance measurement. The results suggest that MCOs are responding to outside pressures to engage in QI. They are reorganizing their management structures and more slowly and tentatively are building technical capacity for QI.

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