Extra Pay for Doctors

Physician's Money Digest, June15 2003, Volume 10, Issue 11

Alarmed by 3 straight years of double-digit increases in health insurancepremiums, some US employersare launching incentive programs thatwould pay physicians a bonus for givingtheir patients top-quality healthcare. The program, called Bridges toExcellence, will also reward patientsfor reaching recommended goals andfollowing doctors' orders.

The employer group includes heavyhitters like GE, Verizon, UPS, and Procter& Gamble. The program they have puttogether is concentrating initially ondiabetics, who require consistent long-termcare. To help make sure these diabeticpatients are receiving quality care,the group will pay a doctor a bonus of$100 per patient, up to a maximum of$5000 a year, for each patient whoseblood pressure, blood sugar, and lipidlevels are adequately monitored andcontrolled. A program involving cardiacpatients, which is in the planning stages,would reward doctors for prescribingthe proper medications.

A separate incentive program wouldpay doctors a bonus for installing high-techelectronic record-keeping andpatient-care hardware and software intheir offices. Companies in the groupwill pay a doctor caring for 300 employeesand their families up to $16,500 atyear-end for implementing a computerizedrecords system.

Patients aren't being left out,either. The Bridges to Excellence programwill allow diabetic patients to logon to its Web site (www.bridgestoexcellence.org), plug in their blood sugar levelsand medication compliance, andearn reward points when they meetgoals set by their doctor. The rewardpoints can be used to buy diabetes monitoringsupplies or to pay healthinsurance deductibles or copayments.