GE, FORD, UPS, P&G, VERIZON, OTHERS BACK NEW PAY-FOR-QUALITY
INITIATIVE FOR PHYSICIANS
Bonuses may equal 10 percent raise for top doctors;
effort aimed to improve diabetes, cardiac care and care
management systems; CMS lauds effort
CINCINNATI; LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A powerful coalition
of physicians, health plans, large employers (see attached)
and others today launched the "Bridges to Excellence"
program, an effort to tie physician incentive payments
to performance. The effort will initially seek to encourage
improvements in three areas: diabetes care, cardiovascular
care and patient care management systems. The effort—unique
in terms of the size of the available incentive payments
and the involvement of physicians in its design—will
also feature incentives for patients to become more
involved in their own health care. Partners Community
Healthcare, Inc., the Lahey Clinic and the Cincinnati
Children's Hospital Medical Center, all among the nation's
most highly regarded medical institutions, helped shape
"We need to address
some fundamental issues in health care—not least
of which is to work toward a common goal of better quality
care," said Francois de Brantes, Program Leader,
Health Care Initiatives, General Electric, and coordinator
of the Bridges to Excellence program. "It's our
belief that this approach to physician compensation
will improve the quality of care that patients receive
and will, ultimately, lower overall costs of care."
Public sector support for the pay-for quality approach
and the Bridges to Excellence initiative in particular
came from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
(CMS), which also participated in developing the program.
"Rewarding physicians for improving the quality
of health care they give just makes sense," said
Tom Scully, CMS Administrator. "We applaud the
efforts of all of the parties, public and private, who
are responsible for launching this initiative."
Under the new program, top-performing doctors could
see income gains of up to 10 percent in the form of
bonuses paid by participating employers. These physicians
will also be highlighted in provider directories, helping
employees and their families identify doctors with proven
outcomes in treating particular illnesses, or whose
patient care and support systems are exemplary.
Physicians played an important role in developing the
effort and shaping an incentive structure that would
appeal to their fellow doctors and spur investments
in quality. “A lot of physicians would like to invest
in information systems to help deliver better care,
but insurance payments haven't covered those costs,"
said Thomas Lee, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Partners
Community Healthcare, Inc. "Bridges to Excellence
changes the financial picture—it makes investing in
systems to improve care easier."
Bridges to Excellence is being introduced in three
metro areas that are heavily populated by employees
of the companies supporting the program. The first initiative,
Diabetes Care Link, will be launched in Cincinnati,
Ohio, Louisville, Ky. and Boston, Mass. The second,
Physician Office Link, will be piloted in Boston. Cardiac
Care Link will be introduced late in 2003.
Diabetes Care Link (a program modeled on an existing
American Diabetes Association/National Committee for
Quality Assurance effort) will provide annual bonus
payments to physicians who demonstrate good control
of their patients with diabetes. An optional patient
reward program is available to encourage employees and
family members to take an active role in managing their
The Physician Office Link program will reward physicians
for investing in information systems and care management
tools to help them provide more customized and integrated
care over time, rather than simply responding to a patient's
symptoms during office visits.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is supporting the
effort with a $330,000 grant.
For more information on the Bridges to Excellence initiative,
visit the program's Web site at www.bridgestoexcellence.org. Coalitions
or groups interested in launching the Bridges to Excellence
program in other markets, or joining in the current
markets, should contact MEDSTAT.
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, equitable and patient-centered care. Bridges
to Excellence participants include large employers,
health plans, the National Committee for Quality Assurance
and MEDSTAT, 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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