The HFMA recently resealed the second of five reports exploring the challenges and opportunities of transitioning to a value-based approach in healthcare. After discussing acquisition and affiliation strategies in their initial resort, they have shifted their focus to the crucial issue of physician engagement. Not surprisingly, they conclude that getting physicians to support the move to a value-based approach is crucial. They identify five key areas that deserve further attention.

Alignment and Employment

New strategies for employing physicians are being explored in order to overcome the financial challenges of a switch to value-based healthcare and encourage greater engagement in the project. Hospitals are increasingly relying on a direct employment strategy, which is appealing to many doctors but has some people concerned that it could contribute to physician shortages and diminished access to care.

Compensation and Incentives

The fee-for-service model that currently dominates healthcare is great at compensating doctors, but bad at keeping costs in check. The challenge is creating new compensation and incentives structures that provide financial motivation for doctors without leading to bloat and waste within the system. Medical groups are exploring new ways to directly link physician pay with productivity, efficiency, and the quality of outcomes.

Financial Support and Sustainability

Moving to a value-based approach has long-term benefits, but also a number of significant short and medium-term costs. Physicians will increasingly be held accountable for cost overruns linked to their care strategies, a new practice that will require careful planning, training, and implementation.

Physician Leadership and Governance

Any change that is as broad and deep as the move to value-based healthcare will require significant leadership and oversight on the part of physicians if it is going to succeed. The HFMA report stresses the need to make this a systematic process, establishing governing bodies, scheduling regular reviews, and prioritizing any insights produced.

Population Management Capabilities

Introducing value into the broader system of healthcare depends on managing the health of constituent populations, a responsibility that largely falls on physicians. Accomplishing this while also ensuring that costs are kept in check will depend on new IT tools and care management models that are both powerful enough to respond to the complexity of the situation and also intuitive enough to serve the needs of non-technical users.

If you have any stake in the future of healthcare, it really is worth your time to seek out the HFMA report. Their research is exhaustive, and they are not selective in the insights they’ve shared. The organization understands better than most how much work is left to be done before value-based healthcare becomes a reality. Find resources to support you throughout the transition by forming a relationship with MedPartners HIM.

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