Paying Doctors for Quality

Posted on October 25, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I recently was listening to a doctor about the reimbursement movement that’s happening in healthcare towards paying for quality instead of procedures (pay for performance or other names). He said, “It’s the right direction, but we need more research on how to measure the quality of a doctor.” Then another doctor colleague said, “In fact, in many cases the outcome that you want is that NOTHING happens. It’s harder to measure and pay nothing.”

I must admit that I’m far from an expert on pay for performance and other possible changes to physician reimbursement, but I found these two comments really insightful. I think they do a good job of describing the challenge of paying doctors based on performance is going to have in the future.

One of the major challenges is with the time needed to measure the performance before you pay the doctor. Often you can’t judge the performance until months later and reimbursement months later isn’t a good motivational model.

One thing seems clear to me about pay for performance. We’ll never even be able to really consider going to a pay for performance model without broad EMR adoption. The data we’ll need to change the reimbursement model will require the data that an EMR software can produce.

I’d love to hear what other challenges people see with the pay for performance model of reimbursement.