Tying Incentives to Quality
The aim of handing out incentive payments to hospitals, physicians, and health systems is to ultimately improve quality while also reducing costs. Some studies show a positive relationship between the two, but there is also some tension about rewarding physicians for a patient's satisfaction.
Back in 2011, the popular physician-centric blog, KevinMD.com, ran a three-part series on the downsides of paying "popular" doctors more based on a patient's evaluation of the care they received. The series pointed out that doctors who are pressured into pleasing patients doesn't necessarily equate to good patient care.
The healthcare delivery system in this country is undergoing a sea change, with healthcare organizations scrambling to put in supports, carrots, and sticks, in order to respond to declining reimbursements, more patients, and physician shortages—not to mention physician stress.
It's hard to tell which lever will be the most effective at moving the needle closer to the triple aim, and whether it's right or wrong to tie patient satisfaction to compensation and reimbursement. But one thing is certain: The qualitative benchmark is a line in the sand that is here to stay.