How do patients choose their physician?

What matters to patients when choosing a physician?  Expertise?  Bedside manner?  Previous relationship with the physician? To answer this question, a paper by Groenewoud et al. (2015) conducts a discrete choice experiment (DCE) survey of Dutch patients with knee arthrosis, chronic depression, or Alzheimer’s disease.  They found that patient preferences for their physician depended on the disease. The…

Funding Physician Medical Education

Each year, more than $15 billion of taxpayers’ money is spent to support physicians in residency training. About one-third of this amount comes from Medicaid, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Health Resources and Services Administration. The remaining nearly $10 billion flows through the Medicare program, primarily to academic medical centers via a complex…

What is MIPS?

Yesterday I posted about MIPS, the new Medicare physician reimbursement program set to begin in 2019.  The Health Affairs blog provides a nice summary of some of the changes. First and probably most importantly, the formulaic approach to setting base payment rates is gone, replaced with automatic increases for all doctors from 2015 through 2019. For…

‘Doc fix’ fixed?

This may be the case.  Fox News reports: The Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation permanently overhauling how Medicare pays physicians late Tuesday in a rare show of near-unanimity from Congress. The legislation headed off a 21 percent cut in doctors’ Medicare fees that would have taken effect Wednesday, when the government planned to begin processing physicians’…

Robots vs. Physicians?

The Economist reports that adverse events occur relatively frequently when physicians insert catheters: placing needles inside veins deep in the body is notoriously difficult. Some 15-30% of attempts suffer complications, mainly punctured arteries that can lead to infection (around 250,000 cases in America annually), but also bleeding, collapsed lungs and even cardiac arrest. Failure rates in…

Does your doc want to be in an ACO?

The answer is likely “It depends.”  To see why this is the case, let us consider the case of some proposed health reforms in Switzerland to force physicians into managed care (MC) networks.  As described in Rischatsch (2015): In 2012, Switzerland held a referendum…aimed at encouraging the nationwide development of MC networks. Among other changes…the legal…

Fixing the “doc fix”

The sustainable growth rate (SGR) was implemented by Congress in1998.  The SGR’s aim was to slowly bring down or at least decellerate Medicare compensation for physicians compensation.  However, each year, it gets reversed by Congress. Now, instead of a gradual decline, the implementation of SGR would  result in about at 25%pay cut for Medicare docs.…

What’s wrong with the SGR?

Why are doctor’s always complaining about the sustainable growth rate (SGR) issue? What is the SGR? The Brookings blog has a nice primer on the SGR. What is the SGR Put in place through the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, the SGR is a system designed to control the costs of Medicare payments for physicians.…