HMO Medical Directors' Perceptions of Geriatric Practice in Medicare HMOs

Robert L. Kane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the extent to which health maintenance organizations (HMOs) with Medicare risk contracts utilize geriatricians and selected aspects of “organized” geriatric practice. Design: A telephone interview survey. Participants: Eighty‐two percent (64 of 78) of the HMOs with Medicare risk contracts as of June 1991. Measurements: Questions to medical directors of the Medicare HMOs on (1) the presence of geriatricians, (2) the roles of geriatricians, and (3) “organized” geriatric practice. Main Results: Fifty‐three percent of the Medicare HMOs have one or more geriatricians, but only 19% have attempted to recruit geriatricians. Geriatricians provide primary care in 76% of the HMOs with geriatricians and serve as specialist consultants in 61%. Geriatricians are reported to be used actively in 32% of the HMOs that have them. The proportion of HMOs utilizing “organized” geriatric activities ranges from a high of 58% for a general health information questionnaire to a low of 12% for a special form(s) for comprehensive geriatric assessment. While the percentage of HMOs using each of the “organized” strategies is higher for the HMOs with geriatricians than for those without, this is statistically significant for only one strategy—the use of special approaches or formal protocols for problems frequently found in the elderly (P = 0.04). Conclusions: The perception of Medicare HMO medical directors is that about half of the HMOs utilize geriatricians and that there is evidence of “organized” geriatric practice. However, it appears that geriatricians and many of the elements of organized geriatric practice are used to a much lesser extent than experts recommend. Medicare HMOs must themselves test the various components of organized geriatric practice in order to determine their utility. 1993 The American Geriatrics Society

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1144-1149
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1993

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