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  • HHS Pulls Plug on 'Mystery Shopper' Study

    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently halted a study to have "mystery shoppers" seek appointments with physicians to determine how easy or hard it is to access primary care based on public comments that accused the federal government of "snooping and wasting money," says a Medscape Medical News  article

    The Federal Register  published a proposal for the mystery-shopper project on April 28. Under the proposal, field researchers posing as patients would have called 465 primary care physicians in each of 9 states—Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia—to request appointments for both urgent medical needs and routine exams. If an appointment was made, the mystery shopper would have cancelled it at the end of the call. Each physician would have been contacted twice, once by a field researcher claiming to have private insurance and another time by someone who said he or she was covered by Medicare or Medicaid. In addition, 11% of the physicians would have been contacted yet a third time about appointment availability by researchers who identified themselves as such.

    The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago was slated to conduct the survey, estimated by HHS to cost $347,369. The survey results would not have identified individual physicians, says Medscape.


    • Great

      Posted by Cindy on 7/7/2011 11:45 PM

    • It would have been very interesting to see the results of this.

      Posted by NIck Rainey on 7/8/2011 3:46 PM

    • The cost to HHS was slated at $347,369. I'm sure that didn't include the cummulative manhours wasted by the front desk staff of 465 physicians fielding bogus calls.

      Posted by Stephen on 7/19/2011 4:43 PM

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