More than 400 physicians from 35 Boston-area medical groups will share $800,000 in pay-for-performance awards given for the first time by local employers participating in a national Bridges to Excellence coalition program.
Awards were given to those medical groups that qualified for the Physician Office Link program, one of three initiatives between the Bridges to Excellence coalition and the National Center for Quality Assurance, a not-for-profit quality improvement group based in Washington that develops and certifies the adherence of groups to quality and clinical improvement standards.
To be eligible for bonus payments under Physician Office Link, the qualifying groups must demonstrate to the NCQA that they monitor their patients' medical histories; work with patients over time, not just during office visits; follow up with patients and other providers; manage populations, not just individuals; use evidence-based care; avoid medical errors; and encourage better health habits and self-management of medical conditions.
Medical groups were not required to have advanced information technology, such as an electronic medical record system, to be eligible for the awards, said Barry Scholl, NCQA spokesman.
"What we're looking for is an office that uses some kind of systematic process," Scholl said. "It doesn't necessarily have to be an IT solution. The idea is to foster the growth of technology systems, because they tend to be a very efficient way to foster those (patient-monitoring) processes."
This was the first major round of awards given under the Physician Office Link program, according to the NCQA. The money came from Bridges to Excellence member employers in the Boston area, General Electric Co., Proctor & Gamble Co., Raytheon Co., Verizon Communications, United Parcel Service and Ford Motor Co. Reward amounts were based on the number of patients employed by these companies seen by an NCQA-qualified practice.
The money went to practices ranging is size from the 180-physician, multisite Lahey Clinic, Burlington, Mass., to solo family practitioner Thomas Jevon, M.D., Wakefield, Mass.
Bridges to Excellence also funds pay-for-performance programs in cardiac care and diabetes care. The coalition, a not-for-profit corporation whose members include employers, healthcare plans and providers, was formed in response to the 2001 Institute of Medicine report, Crossing the Quality Chasm. The IOM recommended provider payment mechanisms be redesigned to encourage providers to adopt processes and technologies to improve the quality of came.