Value Based Purchasing of Emergency Care – Part 2 Recommendations for Providers


This is Part 2, outlining suggested strategies (dos and don’ts) for providers of emergency care who want to prepare for value based purchasing under health reform.  It is primarily aimed at emergency physicians and other hospital-based providers, but also applies to specialists providing on-call backup services to ER patients.

• Don”t assume that because your hospital’s business model is predicated on exploiting the fee-for-service payment system, and avoiding at all costs going ‘at risk’ for the care of managed care enrollees; you should avoid talking to your hospital CEO about future payment models predicated on value based purchasing of hospital and physician services.  They all know it’s coming, and they will appreciate that you are thinking about it as well.

Do consider doing your homework, reading up on VBP and payment reform and how it may affect hospital-based providers, and anticipating how you and your group will respond when your hospital begins to align its business model (and its medical staff) to the new reimbursement paradigm.

• Don’t expect to be carved out of bundled payments, utilization risk-pools, and other incentive programs to constrain costs, just because you provide non-elective services.  Once payers get a handle on how to bundle payments for more predictable services like knee replacements and cholecystectomys, they will then begin to target episodic unscheduled care for strokes, MIs, and even acute abdominal pain.

Do prepare for these payment reform eventualities by tackling one of the thorniest problems emergency care providers face in the ‘open practice’ of the ED – attribution.  Whatever system you use to order up tests, treatments, and services in the ED, you need to be able to identify, and track, whose decision it was to spend that money, and provide that care.

• Don’t assume that, just because your hospital is not involved in an integrated provider network, the CFO isn’t concerned about resource utilization.  Just about every hospital depends upon the provision of cost-effective care in order to profit from services to seniors on Medicare, which is paid on a DRG basis.

Do begin, if you haven’t already, to address your approach to the care of the elderly in your department, with particular emphasis on co-ordination of care, reducing re-admissions, communicating with nursing homes, facilitating review of complex medical records during the evaluation phase of care, and other strategies for reducing unnecessary utilization and improving the efficiency of care.

• Don’t wait for health plans or hospital medical directors to tell you how to spend less and give more and better care.  They don’t know your patients, your department, or your business as well as you do, and they will likely be less willing to invest in your success than you are.

Do consider developing some strategies for cost-effective care for current or future implementation, so that when you are asked to participate in shared savings programs and other incentives to provide quality care at less cost, you and your hospital can both profit from the opportunity.

Again, If any of you have additional do and don’t suggestions, please comment through the link below.    The Fickle Finger

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