Many providers still on fence regarding bundled payments

The number of hospitals, hospital systems and physician groups that use bundled payments is slowly increasing, although many providers say they still remain on the fence about participating in this relatively new form of healthcare finance.

Those are the findings of a new survey by audit compliance and consulting firm KPMG. Forty-four percent of the 140 providers surveyed said they already use bundled payments, up from 38 percent last October.

"Hospitals and large physician groups are increasingly adopting bundled payment options as a means to enhance control over the total path of care (quality and cost) and to create a much more patient-centered experience," said Marc Berg, KPMG's head of strategy and transformation for healthcare and life sciences. Based on its query, KPMG said more than half of those providers surveyed said they obtain more than 15 percent of their revenues from bundling.

However, 29 percent of the respondents said they are unsure of whether they will participate in payment bundling initiatives. Although that's down from 36 percent from last fall, the number of providers that anticipate not being involved at all with bundled payments rose to 7 percent, compared to 2 percent last October.

Although many healthcare economists believe that bundled payments are one of the keys to controlling the costs of care, it's difficult to entice providers to participate. Some believe the best way to do so is by gradually making it less attractive for providers not to receive bundled payments.

Meanwhile, the most recent application deadline for the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services' bundled payment program is April 18.

More than 40 percent of providers queried said they saw aligning the interests of hospitals and physicians as the biggest challenge to successfully accepting bundled payment. About a third said that controlling expenditures in a bundled payment environment is the biggest challenge.

To learn more:
- read the KPMG survey announcement

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