Quality and patient satisfaction metrics are affecting a small but increasing proportion of doctors' pay, according to the Medical Group Management Association's Physician Compensation and Production Survey: 2013 Report Based on 2012 Data.
In particular, this first-of-its kind research quantified primary care physicians derived 3 percent of their total compensation last year based on quality measures, while performance-based data was linked to 2 percent of total compensation for specialists.
"Quality and patient satisfaction metrics are not yet dominant components of physician compensation plans right now, however, as reimbursement models continue to shift, the small changes we've observed recently will gain momentum," Susan L. Turney, M.D., MGMA-ACMPE president and CEO, explained in an announcement. "It's encouraging to see physician practices invested in patient-centered care and continuing to seek ways to better incorporate quality and experience into compensation methodologies."
The question of whether it's good or bad for physician pay to be tied to performance metrics was raised in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. Representing proponents of pay for performance, François de Brantes, executive director of the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute, argued that while still a work in progress, the idea of pay for performance can reduce inadvertent incentives for preventable complications.
"Pay for performance rethinks the way in which services are paid to minimize bad outcomes. And it has worked, if not always as well as it should," he wrote. "It's essential to continue the course while making appropriate corrections when needed."
In presenting the counterpoint, Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., a practicing physician and professor at the City University of New York School of Public Health, contended that pay for performance undermines physicians' intrinsic motivation to provide quality care. "Moreover," she wrote, "it forces doctors to shift their attention from patients to computer screens--documenting trivial details useless for patient care but essential for compliance."