Quality Quickie- Blue Cross pays out

Quality Quickie- Blue Cross pays out

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I remember mentioning in my post on pay for performance that some HMOs were paying out to medical groups based on their making certain quality indicators.  Well, I may have understated that phenomenon.  Blue Cross of California paid out over $28 million to their "favorite" medical groups last year — Hill Physicians in the SF East Bay topping the list –in a physician quality bonus scheme that looks much like pay- for-performance.

How did they score it?  Well, "the quality measures included such items as patient satisfaction surveys, waiting times for appointments, number of complaints and grievances, peer and staff reviews and patient turnover. Under the revised Quality Scorecard, more than half of a medical group’s score is now based on clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction surveys.".  So the IFTF line in 1997 which said that performance based pay would be aimed at improving "quality, customer satisfaction, patient tenure in the plan, and outcomes, as well as productivity and cost-effectiveness" wasn’t a bad forecast. 

$28 million isn’t absolutely chicken feed, but it is split between 80 medical groups.  Still, if Hill Physicians got say $1 million extra for doing well, that might encourage the others. And if that really changes the culture perhaps Blue Cross will go further towards  pay-for-performance, and advertise that fact to its members? (Something that no one ever did with capitation!)

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