Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Physician Perspectives on Pay-for-Performance

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Jan• 26•11

Survey Results

A 2004 poll of a sample of 400 randomly selected physicians found the following:

  • 71% of physicians supported payments based on the quality of care they provide,
  • over 60% of physicians thought that hospitals should also be paid based on the quality of care they provide,
  • Almost 90% of physicians thought that the current reimbursement system did not reward them for providing high-quality care, and
  • 62% supported public access to information about the quality of care they provide.

Quotation #1: Changing Perspective on P4P

When I started my career in the late 1970s as an academic internist and geriatrician, I was skeptical of pay-for-performance, feeling that standards of care could not accurately assess the real benefits of my care of my frail elderly patients with multiple impairments. I still feel that way today because despite the rapid growth of the evidence base, we continue to measure relatively simple aspects of the process of care rather than measuring outcomes. I also felt then that pay-for-performance was a thinly veiled effort to increase efficiency rather than quality. Subsequent experience as the leader of a large academic health science center and as chief executive officer of a major health insurer has led me to believe that pay-for-performance holds substantial potential for enhancing quality of care.

  • John W. Rowe, MD

    Quotation #2: The Problem of Complex Patients

    Should metrics be simple or complex? Most current standards are simple. They state a basic clinical service that all patients with a certain condition should receive, such as prescription of β-blockers after myocardial infarction. Approximately 5% of patients are responsible for 50% of health care costs. They are typically complex. Therefore, we need standards to evaluate management of patients with chronic disease and multiple comorbid conditions. To achieve this goal, we will need a much richer evidence base than is currently available.

    • John W. Rowe, MD

    Source: John W. Rowe, MD. Pay-for-Performance and Accountability: Related Themes in Improving Health Care. Ann Intern Med. 2006;145:695-699.

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