A Simple Framework for Weighting Panels Across Primary Care Disciplines: Findings From a Large US Multidisciplinary Group Practice.
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Health system redesign necessitates understanding patient population characteristics, yet many primary care physicians are unable to identify patients on their panel. Moreover, accounting for differential workload due to patient variation is challenging. We describe development and application of a utilization-based weighting system accounting for patient complexity using sociodemographic factors within primary care at a large multidisciplinary group practice.A retrospective observational study was conducted of 27 clinics across primary care serving more than 150 000 patients. Before and after implementation, we measured empanelment by comparing weighted to unweighted panel size and the number of physicians who could accept patients. Perceived access was measured by the number of patients strongly agreed that an appointment was available when needed.After instituting weighting, the percentage of physicians with open panels decreased for family physicians and pediatricians, but increased for general internists; the number of active patients increased by 2%. One year after implementation, perceived access improved significantly in family and general internal medicine clinics (P < .05). There were no significant changes for general pediatric and adolescent medicine patients.The creation of a weighing system accounting for complexity resulted in changes in practice closure, increased total patients, and improved access.