Group of Companies To Expand Information Technology Bonus Program for Physicians
A group of large companies will expand a program that pays physicians an annual per-patient bonus of as much as $50 when they implement certain information technology systems to manage patient care as part of an effort to "rein in health care costs and improve the quality of care that their employees receive," the Wall Street Journal reports. The Bridges to Excellence program, administered in conjunction with the National Committee of Quality Assurance, a not-for-profit group that monitors health care quality, will expand to include physicians in Albany, N.Y., and Boston; the current program includes physicians in Louisville, Ky., and Cincinnati. Companies that participate in the program include General Electric, Proctor & Gamble, Ford Motors, Verizon Communications and United Parcel Service. The program -- part of a recent "pay-for-performance" trend in health care -- encourages physicians to implement electronic medical record systems to ensure proper treatment for patients and reduce medical errors. According to the program, "the short-term savings achieved by adopting these IT systems are about 4% to 5% of the total cost of care ... the improvement in the quality of care will be even more significant." The companies maintain that the cost of the bonuses paid to physicians under the program equals about half of the estimated savings from the use of the IT systems. Francois de Brante, head of the program and director of corporate health care initiatives at GE, said that the program seeks to encourage a "fundamental re-engineering of what happens in a physician's office." GE, which has paid about $50,000 to physicians under the program, has a "vested interest" because the company has begun to "move aggressively" into the health care IT market, the Journal reports (Kranhold, Wall Street Journal, 5/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.