Firms offer PCPs bonuses for "medical homes"

A group of giant employers including GE, IBM and Verizon have come together to create a program offering big bonuses to primary care doctors who agree to create "medical homes" for patients. The effort is backed by Bridges to Excellence, a program run by health plans and big employers which has pay-for-performance programs for doctors in 18 states. The new program goes well beyond the process changes physicians must make to get P4P payouts--and pays physicians accordingly. Among its long-term goals is to help doctors finance needed infrastructure improvements such as electronic medical records.

The new program takes a P4P approach, but pushes it much further than many other programs. Rather than just being asked to make sure patients meet preventive care standards, the new program would require primary-care doctors to make bigger changes to how they work, including following up on referrals to other physicians, tracking tests more systematically and monitoring chronic conditions more consistently. Physicians who meet the companies' goals can get $125 annual bonuses for each patient covered by a participating employer, or as much as $100,000 per year. Employers, for their part, can save $250 to $300 per patient during the first year, Bridges to Excellence estimates.

To learn more about the program:
- read this Wall Street Journal piece

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