The American Medical Association issued guidelines on pay-for-performance programs, a trend fast becoming part of the professional life of many of the organization's 247,000 members. Pay-for-performance also is a reality for many hospitals, with the CMS and many private payers experimenting with incentive pay for both hospitals and physicians. The AMA said pay-for-performance programs must be voluntary for physicians; ensure quality care; foster the physician-patient relationship; use accurate data and fair reporting methods; and provide fair and equitable incentives.
John Armstrong, secretary of the AMA board of trustees, called pay-for-performance plans a "positive force," except when they represented a "lose-lose proposition for patients, with the only benefit accruing to health insurers." Armstrong, a Miami trauma surgeon, added: "We believe that pay-for-performance programs done properly have the potential to improve patient care, but if done improperly can harm patients." Read the AMA guidance. -- by Michael Romano