TO EXCELLENCE EFFORT LAUNCHES NEW REWARD PROGRAM, ADDS FOURTH
effort to help doctors fund IT investments; physicians in
New York's Capital District now eligible; first reward checks
issued in Boston
- The nation's largest employer-sponsored
effort to reward physicians for delivering high-quality
care today added a new incentive program and a new city
to the year-old initiative. The Bridges to Excellence coalition
introduced the Physician Office Link (POL) program, which
unlike the existing program focused on diabetes care. POL
offers doctors an annual bonus payment for adopting information
technology (IT) systems to help manage and improve patient
care within their practices.
also made its entire program, including Cardiac Care Link
for the first time, available to physicians in New York's
Capital District region and rewarded participating physicians
in Boston with their first bonus payments.
was created last year to recognize and reward physicians
who provide high quality care and/or adopt systems that
promote quality. The coalition includes several national
large employers such as General Electric, Procter & Gamble,
Raytheon, Verizon, United Parcel Service and Ford. In addition
to Boston and New York's Capital District, participating
regions include Cincinnati, Oh and Louisville, Ky.
The Physician Office Link program encourages physicians
to adopt the type of technology-based care management systems
recommended by the Institute of Medicine in its 2001 report:
Crossing the Quality Chasm. A wide range of systems and
activities might help a physician qualify for annual rewards.
Simple patient registries, patient education programs, care
management systems and electronic medical records are among
the many proven strategies for improving care that the POL
effort seeks to promote. President Bush and leaders of Congress
recently called for a nationwide push for electronic medical
records, and the private sector is strongly supporting this
call to action.
who use information technology in their offices consistently
tell us how much easier it is to deliver the highest quality,
most efficient care," said Francois de Brantes, Program
Leader for GE's Corporate Health Care Initiatives, and leader
of the BTE effort. "Unfortunately, very few practices have
an environment that is "wired" because it can be cost-prohibitive
to switch over to technology-based management systems. Through
Physician Office Link, Bridges to Excellence wants to help
doctors invest in their practices by sharing the savings
that come from technology upgrades that support better care."
private sector initiatives like the California health plan-led
P4P effort are similarly geared toward encouraging physicians
to adopt up-to-date information technology.
qualify for POL incentives, physicians must demonstrate
that they have implemented certain electronic systems for
managing care in their practice for all of their patients.
The annual bonus per patient is up to $50, which is equivalent
to about half of the expected savings derived from the use
of such systems. A recent report published by eHealthInitiative
in Washington D.C. showed that the use of electronic tools
to order prescriptions, lab and radiology tests would not
only save lives, but billions of dollars. Bridges to Excellence
estimates that the short-term savings achieved by adopting
these IT systems are about 4% to 5% of the total cost of
care-and that the improvement in the quality of care will
be even more significant.
pressing need to improve medical information technology
is among the most talked about 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.
best tool a doctor has for improving his or her effectiveness
is a computer," said Dale Whitney, Corporate Health
Care Manager, United Parcel Service." A big part of
good medicine today involves efficiently managing data,
but doctors are really overqualified for that sort of work.
It's just inefficient for a medical school graduate to pull
files, look for trends and send out reminders. Fortunately,
computers love that kind of work-Physician Office Link will
help make sure that computers are the ones doing it."
Boston: First Checks Issued
This month, the first round of both Physician Office Link
and Diabetes Care Link (DCL) award checks were delivered
to participating physicians in Boston. The largest of these
checks totaled nearly $40,000 and was presented to Harvard
Vanguard Medical Associates, a large medical group serving
hundreds of employees in one of BTE's sponsor companies.
practice that received an incentive was the three-doctor
Middleboro Pediatrics medical group, which uses an all-electronic
medical record system. "We're proud to have earned
recognition, and we're proof that good medical technology
is not just for large medical groups," said Neal Bornstein,
MD, Senior Partner of the practice. "With good technology,
practicing medicine according to the latest and best guidelines
becomes routine; without it, it's almost impossible. We
could never go back to paper records."
to Excellence Launches in Capital District
The Albany-Schenectady region becomes the fourth Bridges
to Excellence region in the nation-joining Boston; Cincinnati
and Louisville, Ky. The Capital region is the first region
to have all three BTE programs - POL, DCL and for the first
time, Cardiac Care Link (CCL). The CCL program is focused
on improving the quality of care for patients with cardiovascular
disease. The annual per patient bonus for being recognized
by the Heart Stroke Recognition Program* is up to $160.
This New York region is home to about 50,000 employees and
dependents of companies involved in the BTE effort, including
an estimated 2,000 people with diabetes and 1,000 individuals
who have suffered a stroke or heart attack. Thus, the potential
incentive pool for the area is nearly $3 million.
number of physician groups have already expressed interest
in seeking POL recognition. These include Community Care
Physicians, CapitalCare Medical Group and Prime Care Physicians.
Both large and small practices are expected to participate.
practice has a real commitment to investing in the infrastructure
we need to implement the latest health information technology,"
said Louis Snitkoff, MD, Medical Director of CapitalCare,
a multi-specialty primary care group. "The Bridges
to Excellence program will help us share in the return of
those investments so we can deliver the best possible care
to our patients."
sentiment was echoed by other area practices.
in electronic medical records and pharmacy order systems
to improve quality and efficiency is the right thing to
do," said John A. Lutz, CEO of Prime Care Physicians,
a practice of 80 physicians that will participate in all
three recognition programs. "We're looking forward
to continuing to demonstrate to our patients that we deliver
top-notch diabetes and cardiac care."
175-doctor Community Care Physicians medical practice also
plans to seek recognition. "The programs speak to the
kind of cardiac and diabetes care our providers deliver,"
said Thomas Auer, MD, the group's President and Medical
Director. "That little star next to your name in a
physician directory means a lot to someone who needs you."
addition to the bonus payments, recognized physicians in
all three of the BTE programs will be highlighted in physician
directories and within participating companies, thus helping
patients identify doctors best able to treat their particular
encourage patients to take a more active role in managing
chronic illnesses, some BTE employees will also have access
to an on-line customized care management tool developed
by WebMD Health. This innovative tool will allow individuals
to record self-care activities, learn more about their illness,
and earn reward points good toward a range of financial
and non-financial incentives.
more information on Bridges to Excellence, or to find out
how to participate as an employer or a physician, visit
the program's 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, 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.
* An American
Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA)
and National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Program