The cost-cutting ability of physicians is coming under increasing scrutiny. Health plans and Medicare are beginning to identify the costliest physicians, in hopes of crafting policy interventions to reduce overall spending, Mehrotra says. That is being done through physician "cost profiles," which provide a picture of the interventions performed by different physicians.
Not only that, but the cost profiles may be used as a basis for adjusting a physician's reimbursement via Medicare's new value based payment modifier under the Affordable Care Act, Mehrotra adds.
Surely, nearly everyone in the medical field agrees that in younger physicians, many see hope that more are technologically advanced, and more in tune with the multidisciplinary teams so desperately needed for improved quality and efficiencies. But don't count the older physicians out when it comes to saving money for delivery of care, says Mehrotra.
The study focused on physicians included in the Massachusetts Health Quality Partners database - some 12,704 physicians involved in 27 specialties. The physician performance scores were used from insurance claims from 1.13 million patients who were enrolled in four health plans in Massachusetts from 2004 to 2005.
Specifically, the study found that mean per-capita patient costs were $14,906 for physicians with fewer than 10 years of experience. Those with more than 40 years of experience had costs of $10,104. "When you think of the $2 billion spent overall for healthcare, those figures for each physician are significant," Mehrotra says. There was no association between the care costs and malpractice claims or the size of the physician group, he adds.