COALITION PAYS TOP BOSTON DOCTORS $800,000 IN BONUSES; INCENTIVES
REWARD INVESTMENTS IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT) SYSTEMS
THAT IMPROVE QUALITY
Excellence (BTE) coalition highlights 35 area medical groups
as IT leaders; for patients, IT means better care
- 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
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 employee
Physicians and employers interested in participating in
earning rewards or joining the coalition should visit the
BTE Web site at www.bridgestoexcellence.org.
Bridges to Excellence
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.