Sustainable Cost Reductions Born from a Question

Karen Minich-Pourshadi, for HealthLeaders Media , March 19, 2012

How should the physician shortage be handled?


  • "We've added a virtual cardiology group that's available to our internist to guide them on non-invasive procedures, and naturally the compensation is different for them."
  • "We're looking more into telemedicine." (Nearly half the group practices polled in the room were looking into or had added telemedicine to address physician shortages.)
  • "Telehealth is a transformative way to practice. We had a drop in our institutional costs."

What do we do about patient non-compliance?

  • "If the patient is non-compliant, then it's the physician's fault; you didn't convince them." (This comment was not well-received by the physicians in the room, as you might imagine, though they did acknowledge the need for more patient education.)
  • "We need to practice participatory [patient] medicine."
  • "Did you know the group with the lowest end-of-life care cost is the physicians? They also have the lowest cost of care when it comes to outcomes. Contrast that cost with Medicare's outcomes; it's a big difference. Why can't physicians educate patients about end-of-life care?"
  • "We have to have the tough conversations about what a patient wants versus what a patient needs if we are going to drive a culture of value."

The healthcare payment system will take years to heal, and no financial leader has the time (or bottom line) to waste waiting. However, if financial leaders give providers the evidence-based, benchmarked, best-practice data they need, then providers might be able to stop asking questions and start delivering the answer everyone wants: high-quality care at a long-term, sustainable, lower cost.

Karen Minich-Pourshadi is a Senior Editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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