Secret-Shopper Survey of Doctors Scrapped

Plans by the Obama Administration to use mystery shoppers to call primary care practices to get fake appointments were shelved this week. New York Times writer Robert Pear reported on Tuesday that the administration had wanted to use secret shoppers as part of a survey to measure access to primary care. But criticism from doctors and politicians apparently led officials to conclude that the plan was a “political liability,” even though a federal Health and Human Services official denied that politics was a factor in the decision.

According to the New York Times report, North Carolina was among the states that would have been targeted in the survey. Several physicians had contacted the NCMS to express concerns about the design of the survey and the proposed timeline, which reportedly would have involved mystery shoppers contacting 4,185 doctors or 465 in each of nine states.


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  • thomas kline

    It is too bad it was scrapped. I would have,
    for the first time, given a true picture of the primary care crisis. Medicare only tracks
    official “opt out’s” and has no idea how many
    docs are not taking NEW medicare and medicarid patients. The design would have been
    believable and might have helped getting more money for primary care fees.

    We shot our foot off being too paranoid.

    Thomas Kline MD

  • william Shipley

    Sounded like a real good use of tax dollars, didn’t it??