Study shows benefit in paying doctors for better care

by jerry on July 21, 2019
WBUR reported on a study showing positive results from a change in provider compensation. The overall idea is that health insurers specify a target level of health spending, and providers who are responsible for patients share in both the savings (when the patients incur less health expenses than the target level) or in the cost (when health expenses exceed the target level). Under a compensation system like this, providers will have incentives to treat patients more holistically, theoretically resulting in lower overall health spending.

Programs like this have been tried before (often known as pay-for-performance), and results have been mixed. Earlier programs often targeted primary care physicians (who can have a bigger-than-expected influence by coordinating care across different specialists); this program appears to target larger multi-specialty medical practices. This program also appears to have an initial component in which insurance companies paid an amount that providers could use to upgrade infrastructure, making them better able to provider higher-quality care.

Although the results from any particular program or study might be unclear, I expect that more physician compensation will be tied to performance metrics as the industry moves more towards value-based medicine.