HHS Considers Mystery Patients to Evaluate PCPs
The office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) is proposing to use a mystery shopper approach to collect data from physician offices to accurately gauge availability of primary care physicians (PCPs) accepting new patients, assess the timeliness of services from PCPs, and assess the reasons that PCP availability is lacking.
Over a four-month period, 465 primary care physicians (PCPs) in nine states across the country will be contacted by a mystery shopper on two separate occasions, using two different scenarios. The scenarios will simulate requests for an appointment with the PCP from a new patient with a public or private insurance and either an urgent medical concern or routine exam appointment.
The physician offices will be contacted a third time using a direct questioning approach by an identified caller who will inform the physician of the study.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published the proposed information collection request for public comment in the Federal Register April 28.