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Financial Incentives for Medical Assistants: A Mixed-Methods Exploration of Bonus Structures, Motivation, and Population Health Quality Measures.
Vilendrer S, Brown-Johnson C, Kling SMR, Veruttipong D, Amano A, Bohman B, Daines WP, Overton D, Srivastava R, Asch SM. Financial Incentives for Medical Assistants: A Mixed-Methods Exploration of Bonus Structures, Motivation, and Population Health Quality Measures. Annals of Family Medicine. 2021 Sep 1; 19(5):427-436.
Medical assistants (MAs) have seen their roles expand as a result of team-based primary care models. Unlike their physician counterparts, MAs rarely receive financial incentives as a part of their compensation. This exploratory study aims to understand MA acceptability of financial incentives and perceived MA control over common population health measures.
We conducted semistructured focus groups between August and December of 2019 across 10 clinics affiliated with 3 institutions in California and Utah. MAs' perceptions of experienced and hypothetical financial incentives, their potential influence on workflow processes, and perceived levels of control over population health measures were discussed, recorded, and qualitatively analyzed for emerging themes. Perceived levels of control were further quantified using a Likert survey; measures were grouped into factors representing vaccinations, and workflow completed in the same day or multiple days (multiday. Mean scores for each factor were compared using repeated 1-way ANOVA with Tukey-Kramer adjustment.
MAs reported little direct experience with financial incentives. They indicated that a hypothetical bonus representing 2% to 3% of their average annual base pay would be acceptable and influential in improving consistent performance during patient rooming workflow. MAs reported having greater perceived control over vaccinations ( < .001) and same-day measures ( < .001) as compared with multiday measures.
MAs perceived that relatively small financial incentives would increase their motivation and quality of care. Our findings suggests target measures should focus on MA work processes that are completed in the same day as the patient encounter, particularly vaccinations. Future investigation is needed to understand the effectiveness of MA financial incentives in practice.