Monday, October 20, 2008

Want a Medical Home? Just Pay Enough to Get Primary Care Physicians to Smile

The Disease Management Care Blog attended the October 17 Washington DC meeting of the Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative. One highlight of the conference was Perdue’s Chief Medical Office Roger Merrill's description of his company’s approach to chronic illness care. It doesn’t 'pay' for the Medical Home. Instead, it pays primary care providers in its network a 20% mark-up over the next highest fee schedule. Dr. Merrill showed some interesting data indicating their trend line with this simple approach is considerably lower compared to similar companies. While the 20% fee schedule increase seems like a lot, it’s only a paltry 1% of the total spend for health care. They feel they get more than their money’s worth.

What is this secret sauce you ask? In short, Perdue wants physicians to ‘smile’ when a Perdue employee darkens their clinic doors. Perdue has decided that those smiles make physicians bear a remarkable likeness to Marcus Welby – and soon enough they’ll start acting like him too. Think of it as Medical Home the way it was meant to be and portrayed years ago on TV without all process, reengineering, engagement, policy, verbiage, regulation, incentives, requirements, legislation, benefit redesign, work and hassle.

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