The first round of incentive payments allocated by the CMS to physicians through a pay-for-reporting initiative is a small step toward encouraging doctors to report quality information, industry executives say.
The CMS is handing out $36 million to healthcare professionals who participated in the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative in 2007 and submitted quality data on services provided between July and December 2007. That equates to about $600 for an individual and $4,700 for a group practice. Of the 109,000 healthcare professionals who participated, 52%, or 56,700, will receive the 1.5% bonus on Medicare charges.
The money is only a small incentive; its not the main focus for any doctor who wants to conduct quality improvement and participate in incentive programs, said Harold Williamson, a physician and professor at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. This 1.5% is not going to make doctors flock towards it. The university did not participate in the incentive program last year, but will this year.
The PQRI provides doctors with financial incentives for reporting quality measures to the CMS, which hopes to create a value-based purchasing system that aligns reimbursement with quality of care. The pay-for-reporting and other pay-for-performance programs are steps toward a value-based system.
Because the idea of financial incentives is still new, many in healthcare dont know enough yet about the process to determine at what bonus level it is worthwhile to get involved, Williamson said.
The CMS said when it announced the incentive payments last week, that the payments were a positive step toward reporting quality information and that the 2008 program would be enhanced. Under this years program, physicians will be able to report information electronically as well as through data registries. In addition, the Medicare bill passed last week extends the PQRI for two more years through 2010 and increases the bonus by 2%.
Having physicians participate in reporting initiatives increases the focus on quality improvement, but the first round of PQRI indicates pretty meager reporting levels, said Blair Childs, spokesman for Premier. Premier, which partners with the CMS on hospital P4P programs, would like the measures in incentive programs to align for both hospitals and physicians, he said.
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