An employer-backed pay-for-performance program called Bridges to Excellence distributed its first bonuses to doctors for meeting standards of care for diabetes. The program, based on an existing physician-recognition initiative of the National Committee for Quality Assurance, paid doctors $100 per patient per year for providing recommended screenings and working to control blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. It was established earlier this year in Cincinnati and Louisville, Ky., two areas heavily populated by employees of the companies supporting the program. The highest payout was $7,500 to a physician with 75 diabetes patients. By highlighting that doctor and others on a diabetes Web site, advocates of the arrangement hope consumers will gravitate toward top-performing physicians, providing more momentum for quality improvement, said Brian Schilling, an NCQA spokesman. Supporters also hope the payments foster interest among physicians beyond the few dozen who have qualified for bonuses so far, Schilling said. Backed by employers such as General Electric, Procter & Gamble and United Parcel Service, the program saved $350 per patient per year while costing no more than $175 per patient per year, according to research. -- by John Morrissey
Pay-for-performance effort doles out first bonuses
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