HHS Prescribes $840 Million To Help Doctors Transform Their Practices

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The federal government will spend $840 million over the next four years to help doctors move their practices away from a volume-based business model to one that’s focused on rewarding them for good patient outcomes.

That’s one of the goals of the Affordable Care Act, which provided the funding for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative. The program aims to improve the coordination of patient care by primary care doctors and specialists, expand the use of electronic health records, give doctors better access to patient information, and expand the ways patients can communicate with the team of physicians caring for them.

It will try to achieve these goals by funding networks of group practices and health systems that share their expertise with other practices, particularly those in rural areas and underserved communities. For example, a group that’s decreased hospital admissions could show how they’ve done that through monitoring high-risk patients and treating problems before they reach a point where hospitalization is necessary.

Other funding will go to networks formed by medical associations that share information with each other, and let practices all around the country know about practices and policies that result in the best patient outcomes.

HHS officials think this initiative can prevent 5 million unnecessary hospital admissions over the next four years, and reduce health care costs by at least $1 billion.
“This model will support and build partnerships with doctors and other clinicians across the country to provide better care to their patients,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, deputy administrator for innovation and quality and chief medical officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Through this program, CMS will “be a collaborative partner helping clinicians” to “spread best practices across the nation,” he said.

The American Medical Association appreciates the help.

“The AMA has been urging the administration to assist physican practices in adopting new payment and delivery models, and we’re pleased that they have created a program that supports physician leadership,” said Dr. Barbara McAneny, who chairs the AMA’s board of trustees.

“We strongly believe that practice transformation can lead to improvements in the quality of care for patients, control health care costs and enhance practice sustainability as physicians embrace innovative new models.”

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