55% of physicians participate in at least one alternative payment model

A new survey of 500 practicing primary care physicians found that most have some degree of confidence new payment models will improve quality of care for their patients.

Physicians are cautiously optimistic that these new payment models will contribute to a higher quality of care and improved patient outcomes, according to an announcement released today from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health (NGBH).

The survey found 55 percent of surveyed physicians now participate in some form of an alternative payment model. More than one-third said they had been doing so for more than three years.

New payment models, including pay-for-performance, patient-centered medical homes and accountable care organizations, tie reimbursement to quality and performance outcomes and will replace the current fee-for-service model. Only 41 percent of physicians said the fee-for-service payment is optimal for delivering positive patient outcomes, a number that dropped significantly among younger doctors, with only 28 percent of doctors under 35-years-old confident in that system.

The physicians surveyed said alternative payment models may bring with them positive benefits that include improved quality of patient care, greater efficiency of medical practices and improvements in overall patient health. However, less than 10 percent of physicians believe the alternative payment models provide the financial resources needed to compensate them for the additional effort required to participate.

The majority of physicians are open to the idea of an alternative payment system, with 80 percent who do not participate today saying they would consider participating in a new payment model in the future.

"At the end of the day, physician buy-in and support are crucial to the success of these new delivery models," Brian Marcotte, president & CEO of NBGH, said in the announcement. "We are asking physicians to change how they engage their patients, manage their practice and get paid. The right resources, technology and analytics have to be in place to help physicians make this transition to deliver on the promise of improved patient outcomes and lower costs."

When asked about the best ways to control healthcare costs, 62 percent of physicians listed better coordination of care, 56 percent said liability reform, and 53 percent said improving patients' lifestyles, according to the survey.

Survey findings were in line with other recent reports when it comes to participation in new payment models. An American Medical Association survey released in January found that in 2014, 59 percent of physicians worked in practices that received payment through at least one alternative payment model, though few groups had eliminated fee-for-service reimbursement entirely.

A report released this week found that fee-for-service payments continued to predominate in physician practices in 2013, which predates a more recent new wave of interest in value-based payment models.The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services intends to tie half of fee-for-service payments to quality initiatives by 2018.

To learn more:
- read an announcement about the survey