Hello Everyone! Welcome to my blog. In this week’s blog, I’ll reveal an unfounded assumption that almost left my research project awry, had one physician not told me another data source for exploration.
After I finished the plan for my methodology last week, I immediately began to conduct a pilot study where I could get an initial idea of the trends in my results. For my pilot study, I utilized the first phase of my methodology – the interviews with physicians. As a brief overview, I hoped to understand the relationship between insurance providers and physicians and the effect of this relationship on patients. The interviews would hopefully provide the most qualitative analysis so that I could identify a causal relationship between healthcare prices and insurance practices. I scheduled two interviews with physicians from the nearby Kaiser Permanente hospitals in January.
As I finished my first interview with a physician, I realized that physicians had little to no idea of their relationship with insurance providers. I was disappointed because these interviews were supposed to be the linchpin for the rest of my data-set. In fact, here’s one of the quotes that I received from the physician.
“The insurance company’s primary motive is making money. The relationship between a doctor’s office and insurance company is mainly adversarial. Insurance companies are willing to change rules when it comes to the practice of medicine.”
The physician provided answers that coincided with the general sentiment of their peers and the media, rather than their own experiences. When I pressured the physicians to provide more specific details or anecdotes from their relationship with insurance providers, they were unable to give me any useable data. This was initially confusing because I came into my project with the assumption that physicians were the key players who interacted with insurance providers.
My confusion was clarified during the final interview when the second physician actually gave me a tip that health information technicians (medical billers) were the office members who contacted insurance providers regularly. My pilot study proved very useful because I found the real data-source for exploration – medical billers.
From my pilot interviews, I found that I was barking up the wrong tree with physicians, and the real data source were these medical billers. Next week, I’ll conduct a new round of pilot interviews with medical billers.