SPOTLIGHT: Alternative quality contract saves money

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts says its new system of paying doctors a fixed amount per patient improved care during the first year. Doctors who agreed to the "alternative quality contract" are paid a set monthly fee per patient, adjusted for how healthy the patient is, regardless of how many tests, appointments and procedures the patient gets, the Boston Globe reports. Physicians can earn bonuses for improving care, up to 10 percent of their budget. During 2009, the 6,300 doctors paid under the new method improved care for their patients faster than the 14,200 other doctors in the Blue Cross HMO network. Doctors under the alternative contract also reduced hospital readmissions, saving $1.8 million, while readmissions among patients of other doctors grew. Article