“Patient activation,” employer activism and eliminating variations in medical practice are just three things that can be done to lower costs, according to the panelists answering texted questions from audience members during a program this morning at the Medical Group Management Association's annual conference in Las Vegas.
Session offers ideas on lowering costs
Susan Dentzer, editor of the Health Affairs policy journal, said there is a significant role for patients in lowering the costs, and this will be seen as patients start to make more informed and consequential decisions about where they choose to get their care.
Panelist Shannon Brownlee, author of the book “Overtreated,” said patients also have a role in decreasing the amount of variation in healthcare, noting that “Who you see is what you get,” and that the remedy to this is providing patients with the tools they need to understand the tradeoffs between seeing one provider or another.
Brownlee also talked about the increasing influence employers have in controlling healthcare costs and improving quality, and she also warned of another potential crisis involving hospitals carrying heavy debt loads. She said that, if there is a significant “contraction” in how providers are reimbursed, some of these hospitals may have trouble paying back what they owe.
Dr. Lisa Bielamowicz, managing director of strategic research for the Advisory Board Co., said the distributor of funds from shared savings and global or bundled payments will differ from community to community, but she predicted it will most likely be the local market's convener or “aggregator of good physician talent.”
She added that, in such arrangements, hospitals will have to “elevate physicians to true partners” to be successful.
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