Searching for a Good Doctor? State Comparison Shows How Providers Stack Up
Aug 1, 2023
Sutter Health
Graphic that reads "Top Marks for Sutter Affiliated Medical Groups on State Report Card"

Physicians play a central role in delivering care to patients, but that doesn’t mean that doctors do it alone. Most physicians in California are part of a medical group, sharing resources and administrative tasks, so more of their days can stay focused on medicine.

Beyond supporting physicians, this often-unnoticed infrastructure helps patients, too.

Medical groups can bring together physicians of the same specialty or in some cases a range of specialties, which is called a multi-specialty medical group. Bringing together many physicians helps patients more easily access a broad range of services.

Medical groups can also exhibit greater operational expertise, which can translate to a more methodical approach to care delivery. This approach follows clinical guidelines, allows for regular analysis of physician performance and patient outcomes to improve quality, and creates the capacity to weather disruptions – like a global pandemic – without having to curtail services.

The physician groups caring for patients in the Sutter Health system display these strengths and more. As testament, all Sutter-aligned medical groups received high ratings in California’s recently released “report cards” focused exclusively on how well physician organizations provide healthcare for residents who have commercial insurance (typically an HMO plan). *Sutter West Bay Medical Group had too few patients in the sample to receive a rating.

Published by the California Office of Patient Advocate, the report cards evaluated 197 medical groups across 15 clinical quality measures and multiple patient experience questions. To aid consumers all this data is condensed into star scores, where more stars are better. These report cards are based on care provided during 2021 and represent the most recent year from which data are available.

Sutter-affiliated Medical Group Results

Five Sutter-affiliated physician organizations received a perfect 5 stars for their commercial HMO clinical quality performance in the 2022-23 edition of the medical group report cards, they are:

  • Sutter East Bay Medical Group
  • Sutter Independent Physicians
  • Sutter Medical Group
  • Mills-Peninsula Medical Group/Mills Peninsula Division
  • Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group

Two Sutter-affiliated physician organizations, Gould Medical Group and Sutter Medical Group of the Redwoods, received a score of 4.0 for their clinical quality.

Additionally, five Sutter-affiliated physician organization received a perfect 5 stars for providing an excellent patient experience to commercial HMO patients, they are:

  • Sutter East Bay Medical Group
  • Gould Medical Group
  • Sutter Medical Group of the Redwoods
  • Mills-Peninsula Medical Group/Mills Peninsula Division
  • Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group

Two Sutter-affiliated physician organizations, Sutter Medical Group and Sutter Independent Physicians, received 4.0 stars, in patient experience.

The ‘Right Care’

To gain these recognitions, physician groups needed to excel at what the OPA refers to as giving the “right care,” or care that is proven to be effective, to patients. Sometimes that meant avoiding unnecessary treatments, tests or procedures.

One example is not prescribing antibiotics for patients with bronchitis. Bronchitis, or a chest cold, is usually caused by a virus and antibiotics don’t work on viruses. Other examples include the wise use of medications for pain relief, diabetes, asthma and heart disease.

Earlier this year the Integrated Healthcare Association (IHA) recognized six Sutter-aligned medical groups for delivering high-quality

Social graphic with green ribbon signifying award earned by medical groupscare and exceptional patient experience to commercial HMO patients during the 2021 measurement year. Two physician organizations also earned accolades for more effectively managing costs. More information on those honors can be read here.

A Family Affair  

Multi-specialty medical group groups have one more benefit for patients: they’re family-friendly.

Parents can get reminders about vaccinations for their children and cancer screening for themselves; both of which indicate high-quality care, according to OPA. Adults and kids can also access different specialists (e.g., cardiologist, oncologist, podiatrist) as needed, through referrals between doctors.

By breaking down silos that might otherwise exist, multi-specialty medical groups encourage camaraderie among physicians and can inspire doctors to feel like they’re part of a family, ready to care for yours.


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