A study at six Northern California Kaiser Permanente facilities will examine whether training affects the resource use, medical outcomes and costs attributed to physicians who provide primary care.
The $580,000 study is funded by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, and by the Bureau of Health Professions, Health Resources and Services Administration. Both are agencies of the U.S. Public Health Service.
The study will follow the adult patients of three types of physicians practicing in a group-model HMO: family practitioners, general internists and subspecialists.
Previous studies have suggested that subspecialists use more resources than internists and generalists use fewer, said Joseph V. Selby, principal investigator. But those studies haven't clearly shown that such differences persist in a managed-care environment where referral procedures are standardized.
Nor have the studies assessed total resource use or care costs over time in broad populations of patients, Mr. Selby said.
The Kaiser Foundation Research Institute, based in Oakland, Calif., will conduct the one-year study.