ACOsSpecialty PhysiciansSpecialty ServicesValue-Based Health Care
October 9, 2019

How Physicians Can Navigate to Get Better Value from Specialty Services

In recent articles, we’ve discussed how Value-Based Health Care must help consumers make good decisions. Equally as important, CMS is now emphasizing how physicians should serve as navigators for their patients, providing information and guidance. Let’s take a closer look at how the triad of primary care physician, specialist consultant, and patient can effectively engage in a process that improves Value through better outcomes and lower cost. To focus on the shifting role of primary care physicians (PCPs), we use “physician navigation” to describe PCP actions to coordinate care for their patients. To emphasize continuity of care at stake for…
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Future of Health CareRiskSpecialty Physicians
August 7, 2019

Risk Payment Models Will Fuel Growth of Equity-Backed Physician Practices

Risk payment models present a daunting challenge to the very cultural of medicine—for most physician practices. Physicians identify their practices as clinical enterprises more than businesses, although some have managed to achieve success solely by being excellent clinicians in their fields. Patients, however, are quick to see the flaws along with higher costs—hence complaints about customer service, poor billing practices, and difficulty communicating. But clinical practice success, up until now, has been measured by the yardstick of Fee-for-Service reimbursement: higher incomes through patient volume and services. Hospital purchasers of physician practices adopted the same benchmarks of success. Even as hospital…
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ACOsBundled PaymentsFuture of Health CareRiskValue-Based Health Care
May 22, 2019

Can Provider Risk Cure High Medical Costs?

Fee-for-Service (FFS) has been on a slow march toward risk-based reimbursement for two decades. But FFS has proven to be remarkably resilient—until now. In the last six months, Medicare has doubled down on creating new provider risk models for ACOs, specialists and primary care physicians. All of them have methods to ensure that providers are held accountable for medical expenditure targets. Wait. Haven’t we been here before? What‘s different between now and the 1980s, when HMOs and provider risk first prevailed in the market—and then were purged as both ineffective and unpopular? Is provider risk a cure for high medical…
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Future of Health CareMerit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)Quality Payment ProgramRiskValue-Based Health Care
November 7, 2018

The Final 2019 Quality Payment Program Rule: A Slow (but Steady) Push to Risk

Brew a pot of coffee! CMS has released a 2,378-page Final Rule covering the 2019 performance year for the Quality Payment Program, including the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). Those who dive into this document will gain insight into CMS’s vision for the future. It seems tortuous to suggest “reading between the lines” when there’s already so much laid out in black-and-white, but recognizing the context within the rule enables you to prepare for the future—spelled R-I-S-K. The Final Rule is very close to what was proposed back in July and has been similarly justified—CMS continues to cite Meaningful Measures, Patients…
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ACOsConsumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareValue-Based Health Care
October 10, 2018

Cost Savings Aren’t the Only Objective for ACOs: Growth Matters, Too

Keeping within expenditure limits is a top priority for most ACOs for Medicare. That makes sense. Savings are the main distinguishing feature of an ACO arrangement, as opposed to straight Fee-for-Service reimbursement. ACOs that accept downside risk can’t afford to exceed the expenditure target. It’s in their best interest to create initiatives to cut costs and control expenses—especially for services outside the ACO, such as post-acute care. But a cost strategy only focused on trimming expenses will likely fail the ACO in the long run. Why? Medicare ACOs face an annually decreasing expenditure limit that mandates them to lower costs…
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ACOsBundled PaymentsFuture of Health CareSpecialty PhysiciansValue-Based Health Care
September 26, 2018

Five Strategies for Specialists: How to Safely Navigate ACO Arrangements

Amidst the furor over health care access and affordability, most consumers believe that the exceptional quality of America’s health care is due to specialty medicine. But Value-Based Health Care may well dramatically change specialty practice by putting specialists under financial risk arrangements. That’s because the most prestigious and flourishing providers in health care are also the most expensive for ACOs and health plans. That makes them a target for cost control. We have spoken about the need for ACOs to evaluate specialists carefully and ensure that specialists have input into ACO assessments of their cost and quality. Here we address specialists…
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ACOsConsumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareMedical Decision-Making
July 11, 2018

Create Value for Consumers by Leveraging ACO Provider Choice

Medicare and commercial insurers are adamant about moving providers from Fee-for-Service to financial risk for services, and CMS is losing patience over providers’ reluctance to embrace downside-risk ACOs. Why are providers so worried about accepting risk? Because, they say, provider choice will ruin their potential for savings. With an estimated 25 percent of patients seeking services outside the ACO—for 60 percent of attributed total costs—providers argue that they can’t control total expenses, yet are on the hook for savings. They blame lack of coordinated care, duplicate tests and differences in the standard of care. Coordinated Patient Care Inside the Organization:…
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ACOsFuture of Health CareSpecialty PhysiciansValue-Based Health Care
May 9, 2018

ACOs and Specialty Physicians: How Episodes of Care Create a Win-Win Cost and Quality Strategy

Specialty care is a thorny cost and political issue for ACOs and physicians alike. No ACO can provide good or comprehensive patient care without specialists. But if ACOs are to produce savings, they will almost certainly need to address how, when and at what cost those specialists will be used. The degree of concern about specialist-generated costs for most ACOs currently depends on the ACO’s structure. ACOs that are hospital-led or formed by multi-specialty health systems or networks may be less apt to look to specialty care for savings, except when the specialists are outside the ACO. Physician-led groups with…
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AttributionClinical Data RegistryFuture of Health CareMeaningful UsePerformance ImprovementValue-Based Health Care
January 12, 2016

Public Health Reporting for Specialists: Avoiding Penalties Isn’t the Only Reason to Comply

At the heart of CMS’s Public Health Reporting Requirements for Meaningful Use is a basic premise: EMR technology must facilitate tracking of public health trends and long-term outcomes improvement. That is why all providers in the Meaningful Use program, regardless of specialty, are now being required to engage in public health reporting to avoid a penalty. Many specialists don’t see the point of reporting for public health reasons or find it too difficult. While it’s true that specialists face some specific challenges that require dedicated reporting to fit their clinical operations and to avoid professional and financial risks, there are…
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ACO ReportingPQRS ReportingQualified Clinical Data Registry ReportingValue-Based Payment Modifier
August 18, 2015

Radiologists’ Tool Kit: How to Succeed in PQRS and VBPM

When it comes to PQRS reporting, it’s not easy being a radiologist. How can you fulfill PQRS reporting requirements and avoid jeopardizing future value-based payments? Many radiologists have found themselves backed into a PQRS corner—not enough measures to report, and those measures that can be reported have some tricky requirements. Similar to anesthesiologists, radiologists practice in a variety of settings and perform different types of procedures, according to sub-specialty. Depending on the procedures you perform, the vast majority of PQRS measures may not be applicable to you—not only are they clinically irrelevant, but you couldn’t report them even if you…
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