Poll Finds Health Care Organizations Are Preparing for Value-Based Medicare Payments

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Physician leaders express mixed feelings about the timetable for meeting the goals set by the federal government, according to the American Association for Physician Leadership poll.

The move to value-based care is happening, and I agree the Health and Human Services’ goals are challenging.

A majority of physician leaders who responded to a recent poll say their health care organizations are taking steps to meet the aggressive goals announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of tying 30 percent of traditional Medicare payments to quality or value by the end of 2016.

The poll, conducted February 12 - 16 by the American Association for Physician Leadership, showed that 73 percent of the 656 physicians who completed the poll say their organizations are getting ready for value-based payments tied to patient outcomes.

Another 15 percent said no steps were being taken by their organizations to prepare for the new payment model; and 12 percent said the HHS goals were not applicable to their organizations.

More than 170 comments posted by the physician leaders who took the anonymous poll revealed a mix of emotions about the HHS goals, with some expressing total support for the move to value-based payments.

“All of our contracts have been value-based for several years and this year we have some risk-based contracts and hope to increase those next year. We have already made the transition to population health and value-based medicine and are very gratified to see that our hard work has been in the right direction,” one respondent wrote.

“I agree with the department's move toward value-based payments,” another wrote. “Our agency has been focusing on preparing for value-based payments for the last year. To that end, we have implemented three major initiatives, all of which have definitely improved the care that we provide to our patients, as evidenced by our ever-increasing patient satisfaction rates and decreased hospitalization rates.”

Others believe the HHS goals, which also include tying 90 percent of all traditional Medicare payments to quality or value by 2018, are simply too aggressive.

“Yes, we're taking steps, but we're ‘light years’ away from being ready,” one physician leader wrote.

“This is another mandate with no clear path forward. It is fine to set aspirational goals, but to lay in these goals at such a short time frame, when realistically those payment methods don't exist in a meaningful fashion … does nothing but further crush the smaller groups at the benefit of the large systems,” another posted.

And one wrote that he/she was “confident my organization can take the steps (to meet the goals). Not confident that HHS can count or track correctly.”

Peter Angood, president and CEO of the American Association for Physician Leadership, said the poll findings were eye-opening and that he didn’t expect to see such a high percentage of organizations already working specifically toward the HHS goals.

“The move to value-based care is happening, and I agree the Health and Human Services’ goals are challenging. The real key and emphasis needs to be on finding accurate and equitable measures of quality. If we don’t establish solid measurements and metrics, the new payment system will struggle and the reported outcomes will be uncertain.”

Click here to view complete survey results.

About the American Association for Physician Leadership
The American Association for Physician Leadership (formerly the American College of Physician Executives) is the nation's largest health care organization for physician leaders. Since its founding in 1975, the primary focus of the organization is providing superior leadership and management skills to physicians of all types and encouraging them to assume more active leadership roles in the health care industry. In addition to training more than 100,000 physicians, the organization has grown to more than 11,000 members, including chief executive officers, chief medical officers, vice presidents of medical affairs, medical directors and other physician leaders from more than 46 different countries. Learn more at http://www.physicianleaders.org and follow us on Twitter @physicianslead.

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Bill Steiger
American Association for Physician Leadership
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