Taking the measure of the profession: Physician associations in the measurement age

Baruch Levi*, Amos Zehavi, David Chinitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Systematic measurement of healthcare services enables evaluation of health professionals’ quality of work. Whereas policy makers find measurement a useful mechanism for quality improvement, a public choice perspective implies that physicians would resent such an initiative, which undermines their professional autonomy. In this article, we compare two healthcare systems of economically developed countries – Israel and the UK. Both systems share common features such as universal coverage, strong state intervention, and enthusiasm for New Public Management. In both countries, quality measurement was introduced in acute care hospitals at around the same time. However, while the UK succeeded in establishing a framework of surgical outcome measures during the 2000s, a similar initiative in Israel failed completely during the 1990s. We also refer to subsequent quality indicator efforts in Israel, in both community and hospital frameworks, that were more successful, but in a way that reinforces our central thesis. We contend that differences in reform outcomes stem from the medical profession's reaction to government's endeavors. This response, in turn, hinges on the professional organizations’ relative institutional position vis-a-vis state authorities. This study constitutes a unique investigation of the medical profession's response to critical quality measurement reforms. Most importantly, it stresses the institutional position of medical associations as the primary factor in explaining cross-case variation in government's success in introducing quality measurement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)746-754
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Policy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2018


  • Healthcare system
  • Institutional position
  • Israel
  • Medical profession
  • Quality measurement
  • United Kingdom


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