HHS is proposing to use a “mystery shopper” program to gauge primary-care physicians' timeliness in accepting new patients, according to a notice in today's Federal Register.
HHS proposes 'mystery shoppers' for docs
The plan calls for contacting 4,185 primary-care physicians—465 in each of nine as-yet-unnamed states—twice, once by someone pretending to be a new patient who has private insurance and once by someone pretending to be a publicly insured patient. Scenarios will involve patients with both urgent medical concerns and those requesting a routine medical exam.
The purpose of this program, according to the Federal Register item, is to assess the timeliness with which primary-care services could be provided, gain insight into reasons why availability is lacking, and provide current information on primary-care availability and accessibility.
Also, 465 physicians across all nine states will be contacted a third time. This time they will be informed of the study and asked again how long it would take to schedule an appointment. The purpose of this third call, according to the notice, is to evaluate the validity of the mystery-shopper approach in accurately estimating availability of physician services.
HHS will collect comments on the proposed study for the next 60 days.
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