As suggested in the recent article from Kaiser Health News, in collaboration with The Washington Post, “Medicare Announces Plans To Accelerate Linking Doctor Pay To Quality,” physicians will soon be confronted with a reality that hospitals have already experienced. With reimbursement currently at risk for readmissions, perhaps doctors can learn from hospitals as they adjust to a new world.
Hospital reactions to pay for performance have varied dramatically, from denial to indifference to dread. Those that have fared best recognized the importance of data and understanding their unique position within the care continuum. They began by asking the right questions. If heart failure readmissions were too high, they posited the “why.” They were not afraid to pursue the follow-up questions, including “What populations are at higher risk?”, “Is this related to process or provider-related?” and “What needs to change within our control and outside our walls?”
Although doctors often pride themselves on the desire to deliver top quality care, in the office much of the focus for many has been on establishing an efficient, sustainable practice. Through hospital employment and other alignment strategies, physicians of late have begun to view their role as team member within an organization. As co-management of patients takes hold and process measures begin to meld with outcomes, this team approach will become even more important.
For some this will be a new way of viewing performance in the outpatient space. Quality does count, as suggested in the article. And now more than ever, doctors can learn from hospitals, as they leverage data and ask the right questions to ensure the best for their patients.
Michael R. Udwin, MD, FACOG
National Medical Director