The American Medical Association plans to begin accrediting doctors' credentials, qualifications and office facilities early next year as part of a "physician-friendly" practice-rating program.
The association's House of Delegates approved the plan, with initial start-up costs of about $1 million, at its meeting last week in Atlanta.
The AMA hopes its plan will evolve into a program that also will assess doctors' clinical and economic performance, individual outcomes and health status of their patient panel, and patient satisfaction. Those components of the accreditation program will be phased in over four years.
The association also hopes the program will help reduce the number of times physicians must be accredited or credentialed by the various health plans and institutions in which they participate. Physicians that participate will pay one application fee and authorize release of their results to the hospitals and health plans.
In other business, the AMA delegates:
Approved a national study of Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, emphasizing their tax-exempt status, merger and acquisition activity, relationships with providers, perception of their social missions and sale of assets.
Urged Congress and the Pentagon to raise physician fees paid by the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services, or CHAMPUS, which covers military dependents and retirees, to at least Medicare rates. Delegates also called on the Defense Department to ensure that the military's Tricare managed-care plans, which cover CHAMPUS beneficiaries, pay physicians the same rates as CHAMPUS indemnity payments. Tricare plans negotiate discount fees from standard CHAMPUS rates.
Adopted some new principles to promote the purchase of individual health insurance policies, including giving those policies the same tax treatment as employer-sponsored coverage and establishment of an employer-sponsored defined contribution voucher system that would allow employees to choose their own health plans.