TECHNOLOGY: Upping the ante on physician technology use

The Bridges to Excellence program, that the very careful THCB reader may have noted was discussed in the P4P piece by the HSC folks referenced in yesterday’s post, is in the news today for offering to hand out cash to doctors. If it was sponsored by a bunch of pharma companies, Eliot Spitzer would probably be getting the handcuffs out now, but as it’s sponsored by lots of big employers and run by the thoroughly worthy NCQA (and I really mean that) led by Peggy O’Kane, it’s actually a good thing.

As, the HSC folks report, "Bridges to Excellence" makes incentive payments to physicians who show improvements in diabetic and cardiac care and invest in information systems and care management tools". The new story is that up to $50 per patient will be paid to doctors who are investing in the IT tools. Theoretically a GP with a panel of 3,000 patients that might amount to $150,000. In fact one practice got $40,000 already, almost real money, and certainly enough to get well up the IT curve. Of course a cynic (i.e. me) might say that this is a Johnny-come-lately attempt to copy the British government which gave its GPs enough money to get computerized in the 1990s and is now paying them based on their ability to manage patients to certain care process targets. But it’s definitely a move in the right direction.

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