The Practice of Medicine: from Marcus Welby to ???

by Jaan Sidorov MD, MHSA, FACP and Vince Kuraitis JD, MBA

Physicians face great uncertainty. According to a survey conducted by The Physicians Foundation, the great majority of physicians (89%) believe the traditional model of independent private practice is either “on shaky ground” or “is a dinosaur soon to go extinct.”

In the face of this uncertainty, many physicians are jumping to a conclusion that “I have to sell my practice to the hospital.” In this post of our series on The 100 Year Shift, we will examine physician practice.  We’ll show that the economic and clinical environment  is changing rapidly and that selling to the hospital is one option. However, it is not the only option.

Table of contents for the series--The 100 Year Shift? Strategic Realignment among Physicians, Hospitals and Payers

  1. The 100 Year Shift? Introduction and Overview
  2. Payment Transformation: From Volume to Value
  3. Physician-Hospital Relationships: The Hospital Morphs from Revenue Center to Cost Center
  4. The Practice of Medicine: from Marcus Welby to ???

Tire Kickers Need Not Apply: 8 First Impressions of the Medicare ACO Rule

On March 31, CMS released the long-awaited “Medicare Shared Savings Program: Accountable Care Organizations” document (ACO Rule). Read the details here (strong suggestion: unless you’re working on your PhD in ACOs, start with the fact sheets).

There are many surprises. Here are eight first impressions on this 429 page tome:

  1. The bar has been set high…very high.  Tire kickers need not apply.
  2. Don’t expect to see many or any small ACOs.
  3. Patients will be confused by ACOs.
  4. Concerns over maintaining competition and avoiding antitrust are being taken seriously.
  5. CMS scores points for coordinating the ACO Rule across Federal agencies.
  6. CMS loses points for micromanagement and a controlling mindset.
  7. Possible losers — hospitals, ACO vendors.
  8. Possible winners — physicians, health plans.

The details follow.

Is Economic Credentialing A Tool for Primary Care to Lead ACOs?

Is economic credentialing — the use of economic factors such as loyalty and utilization rates in the physician credentialing process — a potential tool for primary care physicians to lead ACOs?   and reestablish the vitality of primary care in American health care?

Keith Wright and Gregory Drutchas’ incisive article Economic Credentialing: A Prescription To Secure Shared Savings Under Accountable Care provides useful history and context about economic credentialing:

For many years, the use of economic factors by hospitals in making medical staff credentialing decisions has been the subject of much discussion and debate among physicians, groups such as the American Medical Association (AMA), healthcare providers, payors, and attorneys….the implementation of healthcare reform is likely to bring the debate over economic credentialing to the forefront once again.

While economic credentialing has been talked about a lot, it’s rarely been used.

The controversy over economic credentialing arises again with ACO’s…and this time the answer might be different — and opportunistic for primary care.

Economic Credentialing from the Hospital POV— The Big Red Button

From my personal experiences, the threat of a hospital imposing any type of economic credentialing on their medical staff has been a big red button  issue — akin to a hospital declaring war on some physicians, with the risk of alienating nearly all physicians.

Management guru Peter Drucker wrote that the two most difficult organizations to “manage” were hospitals and the military. Most hospitals work hard to integrate physicians in decision making and they share a great deal of information about clinical and business issues.

Getting DIRECTly to the Point: The Role of the Direct Project in Fast-Tracking Health IT Interoperability

By Rich Elmore and Arien Malec. Rich Elmore is the Direct Project Communication Workgroup leader and Vice President, Strategic Initiatives at Allscripts.  Arien Malec is ONC’s Coordinator, Direct Project and Coordinator, S&I Framework.

A patient’s health records are no longer confined to a doctor’s office, shelved inside a dusty file cabinet. With the advent of the Nationwide Health Information Network, a framework of standards, services and policies that allow health practitioners to securely exchange health data, medical records digitized to be easily shared between doctor’s offices, hospitals, benefit providers, government agencies and other health organizations, all across America.

This health information exchange is dramatically enhanced by the Direct Project. Launched in March 2010, the Direct Project was created to enable a simple, direct, secure and scalable way for participants to send authenticated, encrypted health information to known, trusted recipients over the Internet in support of Stage 1 Meaningful Use requirements. The Direct Project has more than 200 participants from over 60 different organizations. These participants include EHR and PHR vendors, medical organizations, systems integrators, integrated delivery networks, federal organizations, state and regional health information organizations, organizations that provide health information exchange capabilities, and health information technology vendors.

Updates on Proposed Stage 2 and 3 Meaningful Use Criteria

The Health IT Policy Committee has published proposed Stage 2 and 3 Meaningful Use Recommendations and they’re open for public comment until February 25.

I’ll share a couple of particularly useful and well written analyses and commentaries by colleagues.

Health IT guru and thought leader Dr. John Halamka writes about The Proposed Stage 2 and 3 Meaningful Use Recommendations in his blog.

This is a great article to get a thumbnail overview of all the proposed recommendations. John lists 38 criteria and provides a quick commentary on how challenging he sees each of them. (Keep in mind that he’s CIO at one of the most HIT-advanced health systems in the country — your definition of “easy” and his might not be alike.)

MGH Medicare Disease/Care Management Demo Shows Home Run Results!

Medicare has (finally) recently released a report showing home run results for a disease/care management demonstration project!

Evaluation of Medicare Care Management for High Cost Beneficiaries (CMHCB) Demonstration: Massachusetts General Hospital and Massachusetts General Physicians Organization (MGH)

Remind Me Again About the CMHCB Medicare Demo…

The CMHCB started in 2005. My recollection is that the demo requirements were extremely similar to the Medicare Health Support (MHS) project, with a few exceptions: 1) Applicants had to include direct care providers (delivery systems, physicians) in their program design, 2) patient populations were significantly smaller than MHS.  Please comment on anything I’m missing.

I’ve included an addendum at the bottom providing more info about this little known and not widely discussed Medicare demo.

…and what was the MGH CMP project for the CMHCB?

“Does This ACO Thing Really Mean We Need to be ‘Accountable’”

The American College of Physicians (ACP) just released a well-reasoned and thorough position paper, The Patient-Centered Medical Home Neighbor: The Interface of the Patient-Centered Medical Home with Specialty/Subspecialty Practices.

As I’ve written before, the Big Idea behind ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations) is the notion of accountability, not the specifics of organizational structure.

The purpose of the ACP position paper is to address the gaps that exist in care coordination when a physician refers a patient to a specialist. The obvious and logical answer proposed is to develop “Care Coordination Agreements” between primary care physicians and referring specialists, and the position paper takes 35 pages to explain why and how.

A simplified way of thinking about Care Coordination Agreements is that they recognize that coordination of care is a team sport, that specialists are part of the team, and that this paper proposes rules of the game about how primary care physicians and specialists should play together on behalf of their common patients.

However, there’s a great big CAVEAT buried in the position paper.  I don’t doubt the earnestness of the authors, but I do take this caveat as a Freudian slip recognition that not all specialists will be eager to play on the team and to play by the rules:

Overview: Here Come Stages 2 and 3 of HITECH!

 

We’ve spent the past year creating the MU (meaningful use) requirements for Stage 1 of the HITECH act.  As shown by the diagram above, Stage 1 focuses on Data Capture and Sharing. Now it’s time to begin to focus on Stage 2 (Advanced Clinical Processes) and Stage 3 (Improved Outcomes).

The current generation of EMRs (electronic medical records) were designed primarily to assist care providers with clinical documentation, billing, and maximizing revenues. They were not designed to enable care coordination and optimize population health.  

This essay is the first in a new, ongoing series that will highlight:

  • Design and metrics for Stages 2 and 3 of the HITECH act
  • Companies and care providers developing and using applications targeting Stage 2 and 3 MU objectives

This first essay will provide an overview of what we’ve seen in Stage 1 and what we might expect in Stages 2 and 3.

Medicare MAPCP Medical Home Demo: CMS Kicks Sands in the States’ Faces

by Jaan Sidorov, MD and Vince Kuraitis

The Medicare MAPCP (Multi-Payer Advanced Primary Care Practice) demo promised to be Medicare’s Biggest Change in 40 Years

…but the emerging reality isn’t living up to the promise.

In this post, we’ll discuss:

  1. The Promise
  2. An Overview of the MAPCP Demo
  3. Our Main Takeaway: Emerging Reality Suggests Medicare Will Be a “Difficult” Partner
  4. Conclusion: Think Twice Before Signing Up

1) The Promise

The sandbox metaphor was first used by the National Academy for State Health Policy:

For the 10 or more states that are active stakeholders in multi-payer medical home initiatives, the promise of Medicare getting in the sandbox with them and playing (a.k.a. paying) is an exciting proposition. The addition of Medicare as payer to some of these state initiatives may be the critical tipping point that results in widespread primary care delivery system reform in states by involving more practices, payers and patients.

Is HITECH Working? #7: Where’s Plan B? Congress and ONC need to address major flaws in HITECH.

by Vince Kuraitis JD, MBA and David C. Kibbe MD, MBA

Pop quiz: Among early-stage companies that are successful, what percentage are successful with the initial business model with which they started (Plan A) vs. a secondary business model (Plan B)?

Harvard Business School Professor Clay Christensen studied this issue.  He found that among successful companies, only 7% succeeded with their initial business model, while 93% evolved into a different business model.

So let’s take this finding and reexamine our human nature. In light of these statistics, what makes more sense:

  • Defending Plan A to your dying breath?
  • Assuming Plan A is probably flawed, and anticipating the need for Plan B without getting defensive?

We question many of the assumptions underlying HITECH Plan A. We also want to talk about the need and content for Plan B in a constructive way.

In this essay we’ll discuss:

1) The Need for HITECH Plan B

2) Questioning Assumptions — Issues to Reconsider in Plan B

a) Rewarding Incremental Progress
b) Addressing Root Causes for Non-adoption of EHR Technology
c) Questioning Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) as Building Blocks for the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN)
d) Catalyzing Movement Toward Modular EHR Technology
e) Focusing Incentives on High Leverage Physicians
f) Recalibrating Expectations for EHR Technology Adoption
g) Getting Bang-for-the-Buck in Achieving Meaningful Use Objectives
h) Comprehensively Revamping Privacy/Security Laws vs. Tweaking HIPAA
i) Maximizing Sync Between HITECH and PPACA
j) Leveraging Potential for Patient-Driven Disruptive Innovation
k) Promoting EHR Adoption Beyond Hospitals and Physicians, e.g., long-term care, home health, behavioral health, etc.
l) Dumping Certification

3) Summing Up