Event Spotlight: The Evolving Landscape of Physician Practice

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Pictured: Samuel Zuvekas, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; Source: Health Affairs
Pictured: Samuel Zuvekas, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; Source: Health Affairs

Health care industry thought leaders gathered at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on March 8, 2016 to introduce the March 2016 Issue of Health Affairs. The issue, “Physicians, Prescription Drugs, ACOs & More,” examines the evolving landscape of physician practice and more.

“Today, we will discuss a range of topics from the reporting of quality measures to attempting to pay physicians for their role in promoting a more effective and efficient health care system,” said Alan Weil, editor-in-chief of Health Affairs, as he opened the briefing.

Weil introduced five expert authors featured in the issue, and each shared their research and views on the changing role of physicians in the ever-evolving health care industry. One of those experts, Lawrence Casalino, Livingston Farrand Professor, Department of Healthcare Policy and Research, Weill Cornell Medical College, helped set the stage by explaining, “Physicians spend $15.4 billion annually to report quality measures. It’s vital to develop measures that patients and physicians will perceive as important – about things that really matter – to make this time and money spent worth it.”

Samuel Zuvekas, Senior Economist, Center for Financing, Access and Cost Trends, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, followed Casalino by describing his research, which found that fee-for-service remains the dominant method for physician visits despite the revived alternative payment discussion. “There are reasons to be hopeful, however, as current reform initiatives tend to rely on a more balanced approached to risk sharing so physicians don’t absorb it all. They also provide more direct benefits for providing quality of care by tying payments to measures of quality or outcomes,” Zuvekas said.

In each Health Affairs issue, there is a first-person opinion piece called “NARRATIVE MATTERS.” Carolyn Dickens, Cardiology Nurse Practitioner, University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, co-wrote this month’s article. She spoke about breaking the readmission cycle of vulnerable patients by telling the story of Mr. G, who had substance abuse and incarceration issues on top of extreme health problems.

“Unfortunately, we have several Mr. Gs in our health system,” Dickens said. “There are certain patients with complex needs that will utilize a disproportionate amount of resources, and these vulnerable patient populations are concentrated at certain institutions. We must account for the social factors of readmissions moving forward.”

Read the March 2016 Issue: http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/35/3.toc  (subscription required).