Employer group backs higher pay for primary care

A powerful healthcare standards group plans today to launch an initiative promoting a new model for primary care which would help employers and health plans identify high-performing primary care physicians. The plan, backed by National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), mirrors pay-for-performance plans already in force among some health insurers.

Under its proposal, participating health plans would pay high-ranked primary care physicians more for office visits, and would also offer a system for paying physicians and nurse coordinators for communicating with patients by phone and e-mail outside of their usual office hours. In addition, it would compensate PCPs for managing chronic conditions effectively and using e-prescribing. 

While NCQA's proposals may not be in and of themselves unusual, the fact that the group is throwing its weight behind this proposal is significant, as large employers take its recommendations very seriously. IBM, for example, has come out in support of these proposed payment changes. "We are empowering doctors once again to have a doctor-patient relationship," said Dr. Paul Grundy, IBM's director for Health Care Technology and Strategic Initiatives. "We don't want to buy the kind of care we're getting any more."

To learn more about employer P4P initiatives:
- read this piece from The New York Times

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