Boston continues to be at the vanguard of quality improvement initiatives, as health plans develop payment arrangements with hospitals and physicians to reward those meeting certain performance-based indicators of care, according to a study released today by the Center for Studying Health System Change.
But in its in-depth profile of the Boston healthcare market, Washington, D.C.-based HSC also reports that Boston hospitals and practices are beginning to report difficulties recruiting and retaining physicians. The report cites the area's high cost of living, low physician earnings relative to other areas and high malpractice insurance premiums as reasons for the recruiting problems.
In other matters, the HSC report notes that the Boston healthcare market has largely recovered from financial woes and contract disputes between hospitals and health plans.
It says severe state budget problems this year threatened state healthcare programs, such as Medicaid, but state policy makers managed to shelter most of the health programs from cuts.
Boston is one of 12 communities across the country tracked intensively by HSC researchers through site visits and surveys.
The Boston report is based on a May 2003 site visit and interviews with more than 90 health care leaders, representing health plans, employers, hospitals, physicians and policy makers.