EMPLOYER COALITION PAYS TOP BOSTON
DOCTORS $800,000 IN BONUSES; INCENTIVES REWARD INVESTMENTS
IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT) SYSTEMS THAT IMPROVE
Bridges to Excellence (BTE) coalition highlights 35
area medical groups as IT leaders; for patients, IT means
WASHINGTON - The Bridges to Excellence (BTE)
coalition, a group of large employers that supports
various physician pay-for-performance efforts around
the country, today announced its largest bonus payout
to date: $800,000 to 35 medical groups in the Boston
area. The incentive payments reward physician practices
that have implemented systems and leveraged available
information technology to track and educate patients,
maintain medical records, prescribe medicines and ensure
appropriate follow up. Such systems have been shown
to dramatically improve patient care and prevent mistakes.
The groups earned rewards by meeting criteria established
by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA)
related to the adoption of technology-based care management
systems. Such systems - ranging from simple patient
registries to full electronic medical records - were
strongly endorsed by the Institute of Medicine's 2001
report, Crossing the Quality Chasm, as a key part of
the solution to the nation's health care quality issues.
"It's inevitable that some of our employees are
going to get sick, but what happens next is up to us,"
said Jeffrey Hanson, Regional Healthcare Manager, Verizon,
one of the companies participating in the BTE coalition.
"By paying doctors to invest in better practice
systems we can ensure that our employees and their families
get the best possible care."
The pressing need to improve medical information technology
is among the most widely discussed issues in medicine
today. About 90 percent of the transactions in health
care still involve paper, which complicates critical
activities ranging from checking on drug interactions
to retrieving medical histories to looking at recurring
illnesses or symptoms that may reveal a different diagnosis
or an alternate approach to care. In an integrated,
wired environment, these actions would become routine.
"Your doctor should have your medical history in
front of her the next time you go in for a visit - it's
really the only way to ensure that you get the right
care," said NCQA President Margaret E. O'Kane.
"And when you leave, the doctor should be looking
for trends and assessing her performance to see how
to better serve all her patients. These incentive payments
will help make that vision a reality."
The Physician Office Link program is one of the newest
of a series of pay-for-performance initiatives offered
by the Bridges coalition in Boston and Schenectady/Albany.
The Bridges coalition also offers incentives for Recognition
in diabetes care in the Louisville and Cincinnati areas.
A wide range of systems and activities can help a physician
qualify for annual rewards through the program. These
include having a list of patients by disease (registries),
use of reminders for physicians or patients, electronic
prescription ordering, patient education programs, care
management systems and fully functional electronic medical
records. All of those strategies better connect physicians,
patients and important information. In addition to monetary
rewards, NCQA also highlights recognized providers on
its Web site.
BTE also offers rewards to doctors and medical groups
who meet NCQA, American Diabetes Association and American
Heart Association/American Stroke Association criteria
in the areas of diabetes care and cardiac/stroke care.
Rewards are based on the number of patients a physician
or medical group treats who are covered by one of the
participating Bridges employers.
Among the 35 medical groups (see list below) that earned
rewards was the Lahey Clinic. "Having strong clinical
and information systems to support the delivery of care
is essential for achieving the best outcomes,"
said Lahey Clinic's Chief Operating Officer Sanford
R. Kurtz, M.D. "This is one of the first quality
initiatives that has actually created the incentives
needed to motivate investments in processes that will
lead to better care. We are delighted to be part of
the program and to be recognized for our excellence
in clinical practice systems."
More than 400 physicians work in the medical groups
that earned BTE rewards, including Tom Lee, M.D., Network
President for Partners HealthCare System, a longtime
promoter of better health care information technology.
"A lot of people equate a good doctor with good
medicine," said Lee "It's not that simple.
If I don't have easy access to your medical history,
how am I going to know that you're overdue for a screening,
or that the drug I'm about to prescribe doesn't react
well with the drug another doctor has given you? A system
that keeps such critical information locked away on
paper leads to oversights, errors and deaths. These
incentives will advance health care IT and help move
The coalition includes several national large employers
including General Electric, Procter & Gamble, Raytheon,
Verizon, United Parcel Service and Ford. Employers participating
in the coalition expect to reap substantial benefits
for promoting pay-for-performance in health care, including
higher productivity, reduced absenteeism and increased
Physicians and employers interested in participating
in earning rewards or joining the coalition should visit
the BTE Web site at www.BridgesToExcellence.org.
The Bridges to Excellence coalition is a not-for-profit
organization created to encourage significant leaps
in the quality of care by recognizing and rewarding
health care providers who demonstrate that they deliver
safe, timely, effective, efficient and patient-centered
care. Bridges to Excellence participants include large
employers, health plans, the National Committee for
Quality Assurance (NCQA), MEDSTAT and WebMD Health,
among others. The organizations are united in their
shared goal of improving health care quality through
measurement, reporting, rewards and education.
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