Health care IT: Medicare quality project nets 10 practices $16.7M in incentives

September 12, 2008

Ten medical groups invested in information technology improvements to help them earn a combined $16.7 million in incentive payments in a Medicare pay-for-performance quality-improvement demonstration project.

Ten medical groups invested in information technology improvements to help them earn a combined $16.7 million in incentive payments in a Medicare pay-for-performance quality-improvement demonstration project.

The Physician Group Practice Demonstration project's aim is to reward health-care providers for improving health outcomes for patients with congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, and diabetes mellitus, according to a statement from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

While the project isn't designed to showcase the effect investing in health information technology (HIT) can have on quality, many of the groups leveraged HIT to help in the effort. Enhancements to electronic health records and patient registries allow practices to more easily identify gaps in care, alert physicians to these gaps during patient visits, and provide interim feedback on performance, according to CMS.

The project is an example of one of Medicare’s "value-based purchasing" initiatives, which are designed to tie Medicare payments to performance on health-care costs and quality measures.

"These results show that by working in collaboration with the physician groups on new and innovative ways to reimburse for high quality care, we are on the right track to find a better way to pay physicians," said Kerry Weems, acting administrator of CMS.

All 10 practices achieved target performance goals on at least 25 of 27 quality measures, while five practices hit targets on all 27, according to CMS. The results are from the second year of the four-year project, which is scheduled to run through March 2009

The participating groups are:

  • Billings Clinic, Billings, Montana

  • Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic, Bedford, New Hampshire

  • The Everett Clinic, Everett, Washington

  • Forsyth Medical Group, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

  • Geisinger Clinic, Danville, Pennsylvania

  • Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield, Wisconsin

  • Middlesex Health System, Middletown, Connecticut

  • Park Nicollet Health Services, St. Louis Park, Minnesota

  • St. John’s Health System, Springfield, Missouri

  • University of Michigan Faculty Group Practice, Ann Arbor, Michigan

CMS did not break down the payments by group.