Is Public Policy Changing The Practice of Medicine? – Health Affairs Blog

“We’re going to find out what works and then go do it,” said Barack Obama. Doctors will learn to practice medicine like engineers, predicted Atul Gawande. The profession will be dominated by Accountable Care Organizations ACOs, said Karen Davis, and doctors will be rewarded for lowering costs and raising the quality of care. Only through ACOs can we achieve low-cost, high-quality care, said Elliott Fisher. Fee-for-service medicine is the problem, we were told, and the solution is bundled care. The idea that we should buy on value, not on volume, was a sentiment often heard.Four years on, these predictions have been far from the mark — to put it charitably. We have spent tens of millions of dollars on demonstration programs and pilot projects investigating coordinated care, integrated care, managed care, pay-for-performance medicine, electronic medical records systems, etc. The result? Three separate Congressional Budget office reports have concluded that none of this is working, or at least not working very well. See here, here and here. The experience of the pilot ACO projects has been dismal. A total of 5.3 million Medicare beneficiaries are now in Medicare ACOs. Yet in their first year, only 29 percent of the physician-led ACOs and only 20 percent of the hospital-sponsored ACOs turned a “profit.” And among those that did so, the results were fairly mediocre.The response of the advocates: double down and do more of the same. But before we throw good money after bad, perhaps we should stop and take stock.

via Is Public Policy Changing The Practice of Medicine? – Health Affairs Blog.

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