Healthcare industry providers are consolidating to get a better handle on revenue streams, reduce costs and control risk. Federal programs looking to control costs may further alter payment systems if consolidation is found to increase medical spending. The number of US physician practices owned by hospitals is rising rapidly, as changes in medical payment systems prompt providers to seek efficiencies through new operational structures. Some 31,000 practices were acquired by hospital groups between 2012 and 2015, leading to an 86% jump in the number of hospital-owned doctors’ offices, according to a recent study from Avalere Health and the Physicians Advocacy Institute (PAI). Nearly 40% of physicians in the US are employed by hospitals or health systems.
A growing number of insurers and health providers are transitioning to value-based reimbursement methods, with the goal of containing costs and improving care. Healthcare providers must adjust processes to maintain efficient, high-quality operations during the transition period. While fee-for-service reimbursements are still the primary mode of payment for US health care providers, insurers are making progress on goals to switch over to value-based contracts. Value-based payment systems include quality incentives, accountable care models, network management, and bundled payments. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is on track to meet its goal of tying 30% of traditional Medicare payments to value-based payments by the end of 2016, as well as higher targets over the next several years. Commercial insurers are also adopting new payment models; Aetna is aiming for 75% of spending through value-based contracts by 2020. According to a recent survey by McKesson reported by Healthcare Dive, hospitals are about 50% along the continuum towards full value-based reimbursement. However, challenges remain in areas including process automation and payer-provider collaboration. A majority of surveyed hospitals were not yet meeting value-based reimbursement goals including lower costs, better care coordination, and improved patient outcomes.
Posted by Peter Heydenrych.