Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pay for Performance and Physicians may be like taking Cats for a Walk

The look of cooperation
Medicare continues to move forward with its PRQS "value-based" fee schedule modifier that will adjust physician payments up or down by 2% and 1%, respectively

As the Disease Management Care Blog understands it, 2013 physicians' quality and cost data will be compared to peers, and the docs who are above and below the mean will be correspondingly financially rewarded or dinged starting in 2015.  While the American Medical Association continues to quibble over the details, this Affordable Care Act pay-for-performance (P4P) train has left the station.

Unfortunately for CMS, plenty of research suggests that it remains an open question whether PRQS will have much of an impact. For example, findings from this Ontario study indicate that incentives tend to reward physicians who have already achieved the quality thresholds, doing little for the docs who are behind.  Additional research shows physicians may not agree with the underlying methodology and distrust the reliance on insurers' data, leading to a willful disregard of the incentives.  And then there's this expert survey that suggests that the effort it takes to achieve low single digit digit changes in income may be viewed as not worth the trouble.

The DMCB also thinks there may be another under-recognized issue at stake. While fee schedule changes in the 1% to 2% range can make a big difference to large hospital-physician organizations, that money, thanks to these organizations' byzantine internal accounting and transfer pricing, is unlikely to trickle down in a meaningful way to their employed physicians' paychecks. 


Physicians and P4P may turn out to be like cats and going for a walk.

Image from Wikipedia

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