Getting to Better Care: Halloween edition

In this installment of our Getting to Better Care roundup (see past entries on the HCFA website), we feature some good news, some updates and (as always) a little bit of fun:

  • Massachusetts Medical Society released its ninth annual Physician Workforce Study. According to the study, half of primary care practices in Massachusetts are closed to new patients. Even when open, patient wait times for appointments are 29 days on average.
  • Our local doctor news is bookended with this Kaiser/NPR piece that discusses the migration of doctors to hospital systems and the reasons why.
  • The Wall Street Journal published an article on patient wait-time and how our current payment system forces providers to pack patients into a day’s schedule to promote “efficiency.” The article also lists a number of moves by the industry to tackle increased wait-time, such as open-access scheduling, advanced preparation, and teamwork.
  • The New York Times reported on a new payment structure that some major insurers, including UnitedHealthcare, plans to implement for cancer treatments, with the hopes to lower doctors’ preference over expensive individualize and unproven top-of-the line treatments over routine guidelines.
  • The QCC payment reform subcommittee met on Wednesday to discuss ACO provider composition, members, governance, and oversight. Flexibility was a major theme. There was a consensus on a number of areas, including the necessity for consumer representation on ACO governance. The full QCC also met, where several members proposed an interesting approach to the issue of measuring preventable readmissions. Since the expert panel could not decide between the various methodologies for counting preventable readmissions (see this powerpoint for details), the idea is to start by publicly reporting hospitals that score particularly high or or low on the two leading measures.
  • Our own GIC joins the Boeing Company, Delta Air Lines, Equity Healthcare, GE, the Intel Corporation and Wal-Mart Stores in an effort to advocate for healthcare payment approaches that reduce costs and waste while spurring higher quality and to work to put such payments in place with the health insurance plans with which they contract.
  • Kaiser reports that health care stakeholders are all maneuvering to gain an advantage under the yet undefined ACO structure. Our favorite quote: “ACOs are the latest fad,” said Dan Hawkins, senior vice president for policy and research at the National Association of Community Health Centers. “I call them the hula hoop of health care because everyone wants one even if they haven’t actually been defined anywhere. The whole doggone health care community is in a frenzy to own and dominate these ACOs.” Read the whole article.
    -The Campaign for Better Care Team: www.hcfama.org/bettercare

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