Would Your Doctor Make This Performance Cut?

Alexa Pugh
Posted

doctor performanceFor docs who thought they left grades behind in med school, new digital performance assessments are making them think again.

Paper charts have been replaced by electronic charts, and performance monitoring has been quick to follow the trend. Among other performance software, Crimson has grown its catalog of doctors from under 50,000 to over half a million since 2009.

Hospital systems are attracting more doctors than ever before, and are under the gun to slash expenses without sacrificing quality. Insurers have also jumped on the monitoring bandwagon, as they transition to charging patients for care as a package instead of by individual procedure. And provisions of the Affordable Care Act also mean penalties for hospitals if their doctors aren’t at the top of their game.

The new monitoring systems can track doctors better and more efficiently than older models, hospital executives told the Wall Street Journal. They use data to evaluate physicians based on measures such as the number of unnecessary procedures, the amount of time patients stay in the hospital and readmission statistics.

MemorialCare, a California hospital system that tracks their doctors electronically, reported that the average length of a hospital stay for an adult patient went down from 4.2 to 4 days from 2011 to 2012, during which time they shaved $13.8 million off costs.

They also reported fewer instances of readmission, mortality and complications.

The systems also encourage doctors to remember to give recommended mammograms, immunize adolescents, prescribe the best forms of asthma medication, conduct chlamydia screenings, administer bronchitis treatment and keep diabetes patients’ blood sugar in check.

But some doctors worry that the monitoring system will drive doctors to avoid riskier patients who could put a dink on their track record. There could be added incentive to avoid treating certain cases if physicians salaries are calibrated to how well the electronic systems say they perform.

Some doctors are also put off by the idea of being electronically baby-sat.

“The whole way you get trained is to be the decider, the captain of the ship,” Michael Sills, a cardiologist and technology executive at Baylor Health Care System in Texas, told the Wall Street Journal. The systems will be “monitoring their productivity, monitoring their costs. They’re not going to like it one little bit.”

But public accessibility to the data will also mean more information for patients. Will your physician pass the test?

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